|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 25, 2020 at 8:45 AM||comments (1)|
|Posted by email@example.com on May 19, 2020 at 12:55 AM||comments (2)|
Health and Wellness
By: Magon Saunders
It is May 2020, and the world is in the grips of the Coronavirus pandemic. In Georgia, my office just completed the 9th week of 100 % telework. In the past nine weeks, I have driven less than 10 miles and have only left the house for fresh fruits and vegetables and for a funeral. It is a strange time!
When I navigate the very quiet world outside of my home, I ensure that I wear a mask, sanitize doors, cart handles, my hands and my purses, before I return to my car and home. I also follow all social distancing rules, although these can be hard to follow in the grocery stores and or farmers markets. On my side of the world, the big concern has been the growing number of family members and friends affected by COVID-19. While several in the United States and England have recovered from their infection, unfortunately, we have one family member so far that have died from the virus. At the time of writing, the United States was approaching almost 90,000 cases of COVID-19. Death seems all around us and many are scared to leave their homes, go to the store, participate in worship, etc. It is indeed a scary time, but what do we do as believers do? How do we navigate this current world? What will our lives look like once this virus releases its grip on our world?
No one really knows the answer to these and other pressing questions since most of us have never experienced anything like this in our lifetime. For instance, no one seems to know whether the virus will truly go away? Whether it will have a second or third wave? How many will die in the first wave, and how far the droplets from a sneeze or cough can spread in the air. Is it six-feet or 23? Does it make sense to wear a mask in public? Will we ever have a time when we will see toilet paper back on the shelves? Will we always have a shortage of meats and poultry? When will things get back to normal? I will venture to say, only God truly knows the answers to these questions that fill our mind.
Most importantly, the economy is upside down, and 34 million Americans that are unemployed are wondering when and where they will find work, and how they will survive post pandemic? Many reported that the “stimulus check”, if they received one, was gone before it came. Many have applied for unemployment, yet two months later they are still waiting for that mysterious unemployment check. Many are broke, and the people who rely on them for support are terrified. Unfortunately with funds tight, many unemployed Americans are joining the lines at Food Pantries, and TV stations are reporting very long lines at Food banks where over 70% of clients have never requested this service. According to Feeding America, in Georgia, 1 in 7 adults and 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger. The COVID-19 pandemic has just increased this need.
So, this is a frightening, yet a very reflective time. Frightening as we are all fearful about contracting the virus, losing our jobs, or the impact of the pandemic on our finances. Yet, this is a reflective time, since the world has come to a major pause and many are forced to stay home and to enjoy their own company or spend time with their family. Mental health and physical health needs are heightened, and as a community, we have all had a chance to reflect on our lives. Questions such as these have cross my mind often: Are we where we want to be? What needs to be changed to get us to our personal goals? As many die around us, we have all reflected on whether we too are ready to die? Speaking of death, even death has been impacted by the virus as many funeral and other burial rites are ignored or limited with the social distancing and the limitations added to the number of people who can congregate.
So, as we approach Memorial Day and the beginning of the summer, what are we to do? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that we do the following to continue to stay safe. These are as follows:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water is not available, we should use sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to cover all of our hands, rubbing them together until they are dry.
- Keep your hands out of your face, mouth and eyes.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you go out in public.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as kitchen counters, door knobs, etc.
- Avoid close contact even within your home, especially if a person is sick.
These and similar tips can help us survive this pandemic. For now, let us pray, let us unite to fight this virus, let’s work together to save lives, let’s keep practicing social distancing, let’s continue to be grateful for what we have, and let’s share our stories. What is your pandemic positive? Please write to us and share this with others as we work to get back to some semblance of normalcy in our lives.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on April 5, 2020 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
Health and Wellness
Author: Pamela Barnes
Greetings! April is National Minority Health Month and the Office of Minority Health is encouraging everyone to “stay active and support physical, mental and emotional wellness.” I recognize that this can be somewhat difficult as we try to practice social distancing and staying home as much as possible, although situations sometimes dictate our having to go out for necessities, etc. However, as we all strive to get through this challenging time, let’s not forget our struggles with health and wellness. This is not a time to neglect our minds and bodies. You can take part in daily activities in your own homes that will help you to remain active and relieve the anxiety of not being able to go out and participate in your previous activities. The Office of Minority Health has asocial media campaign #ActiveandHealthy that promotes staying active and healthy in and around the house. For those of us who aren’t connected to social media there’s always the tried and true physical exercises that do work: sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, stretches, toe touchers knee bends… (trying to remember gym class). Right now, it’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of eating and sleeping! Oh, and watching TV. For you, social media gurus join #ActiveandHealthy and take part in encouraging each other. Be creative, share your thoughts and ideas. It’s not only about exercise. Check out the following suggested themes: Wellness Mondays, Trivia Tuesdays, Work Out Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays, Family Fridays, Spotlight Saturdays and Empowerment Sunday! So join and share your own stories about working out, eating right, and finding ways to keep the peace, joy, and wellness in your life.
Now, let’s talk about keeping those elements of peace and joy in our lives. When we consider the words of Jesus, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-4) To be a Christian is to be connected to Jesus, the Vine. We are the branches. Our peace, security, and joy are in Him. Let’s not be swayed by the winds of adversity that we are experiencing. Jesus said “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 14:27) Don’t give in to the fear. Stay in the word of God and remember “this too shall pass.
Now, please share your tips and tricks for staying active and healthy during this time with us.
Yours in Christ,
|Posted by email@example.com on March 8, 2020 at 8:40 PM||comments (0)|
Forgiving the Persecutors
Guest Writer: Floyd Sullivan
The persecution of Christians that is so prevalent in many countries today is not a new circumstance for Christians. Our faith would be in vain and our salvation null and void if Jesus didn't shed His blood on calvary's cross for our sins. And Jesus said,"...A servant is no greater than his master.' If they persecute me, they will persecute you also...' The first Christian martyr was Stephen, he was accused of blasphemy and then stoned to death. In an issue of Voice of The Martyrs magazine, the story is told of Khin Maung a Myanmar army officer who made a mistake that led to his imprisonment and a life-changing encounter with six pastors who met in prison. Before he lost his firearm, which sent him to prison he had a reputation for brutality towards Christian. He took every opportunity to publicly mock and embarrass Christians. When Christians prayed, he interrupted them and beat them when they read their bibles. When they ate, he knocks their meals off the table and made them clean up the mess. "I kicked them with my military boots and whipped them with a rope," he said I kick [one soldier�??s] teeth in." And Khin treated Christians worse, particularly the ethnic Burmese who had left Buddhism to follow Christ. He would force pastors to get drunk to defame them and destroy their reputation. But after Khin fell afoul of his military superiors and had to face beatings and torture. He was subsequently sent to prison where he met these six pastors who shared the gospel with him and always responded to his attacks with patience and love. One day Khin made a promise to them. "I told them, 'If Jesus is a true savior, if he can save me from my suffering, then I will serve him until the day I die." They continue to pray for him and spend time teaching him about the bible. Khin was eventually freed when his friend who took his firearm testified to doing so. The charges against him for selling the firearm were dismissed and Khin cried out "Hallelujah!" and gave his life to Christ. Khin refused to be reinstated and promoted in the army. He instead chose to commit his life to serve Jesus Christ. He went straight to a church and pastors helped him attend a bible school for two years. And when he began doing the work of the ministry he came under persecution, but he had already decided to be a soldier for Jesus Christ. Khin was ready in mind and body for whatever came his way. However, after Khin experience persecution he felt the need to seek forgiveness from those he had persecuted. They gave him the name Paul. But it is significant to note that it was those Christians he had met in prison who had forgiven him before he asked for forgiveness, it was those Christians who showed patience and love to him in his unregenerate state that set his redemption in motion. One of the highest calling for us as Christians are to forgive those who hate us. We forgive for our health and we forgive because Jesus Christ first forgave us. Please join me as we pray for the persecuted church! How if any have you been persecuted for your faith? Please share your stories with us. Standing Strong for Christ!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on February 16, 2020 at 7:00 PM||comments (2)|
Guarding Your Heart Spiritually and Physically this American Heart Month
It is February 2020, and all across America, we are celebrating American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and so this month is dedicated to building awareness and encouraging Americans to take action to improve their heart health. So, in a recent meeting, I asked participants what they were planning to do to keep their hearts healthy in 2020. I heard lots of plans to get to the gym, buy and use a Fitbit, eat more fruits and vegetables, start yoga, eat less sodium., reduce stress, laugh more, etc. But, my ears perked up when one attendee said she wanted to work harder to guard her heart. Wow, this came almost out of the left-field, but it resonated with me. So, I later spend time considering how if any I was guarding my heart. Also, since guarding the heart is a biblical recommendation, I wondered how many Americans had experienced heart disease or related conditions, because they had refused to guard their hearts. Have you ever wondered this yourself? I am sure you have! If you are still with me, you might be wondering how one guards one’s heart.
I am glad you asked. In Proverbs 4:23, if read and understood in the context it is written, biblical scholars believe that this instruction is to not just guard our hearts, but to guard the godly instructions within our hearts. Not only that, but we are told that God’s instruction “is your life” and “they are life to those who find them”. A heart full of sin and foolishness does not have life flowing from it. Only when our hearts are full of his truth and love will life flow from our hearts. Therefore, to guard our hearts according to the Bible, we must guard the truths and biblical instructions God has placed within our hearts through the Holy Spirit illuminating the Scriptures. In simple terms, you do this by protecting your heart from sin at all costs.
The CDC (2018) recommended that to improve heart health, Americans should do the following: 1) stop smoking or don’t smoke; 2) manage conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc.; 3) make heart-healthy eating changes. By eating food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar and sodium. Filling half of one’s plate with vegetables and fruits and choosing lower-sodium options; and 4) stay active! Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. You can even break up the 30 minutes into 10-minute blocks.
These are great ways to physically guard one’s heart and all evidence-based behaviors
that I work to follow each day. But, guarding one heart’s spiritually in practical terms is done by guarding the godly deposits that are there. Of course, we can see what is in a person’s heart by looking at the fruits of the spirit that is evident in their life. Yes, being patient, kind, long-suffering, and forgiving is more difficult, but this will go a long way in improving overall health and longevity, and shows more than anything else that we are guarding our hearts.
So, this Heart-month, I challenge you to consider how you can guard your heart spiritually and physically, and how you can use micro-resolutions to keep you motivated to continue the healthy behaviors your start this month, for the rest of your life. I would love to hear from you about how you guard your heart. So, send us your tips and tricks for keeping your heart healthy this month and all year long.
To Good Health!
|Posted by email@example.com on January 11, 2020 at 6:30 PM||comments (1)|
Why Forgiveness is Necessary for a High-Quality Life in 2020
Welcome to 2020, a new year, a new decade, and a new you! As usual, everyone has made the typical new year’s resolutions; many are fasting and praying, some have just started retirement, and even more are anxious about going back to work again, especially after a long holiday break. Whatever state you might find yourself in, I hope that you are excited and happy to have made it into the brink of this new decade. In my mind’s eyes, it seems like only yesterday, we were getting ready for the Y2K scare of 2000, and now we have arrived on the shores of 2020. Exhilarating indeed!
But one might wonder whether we are ready for this decade with its technological advances and other promises. What will the new decade bring? How might it end? What changes will it offer to our lives? What is the role of forgiveness in all of this, and why do we even care? I am glad you asked. It is critical always to understand your “why,” so that you have a clear understanding of the root causes of an issue, and how addressing this will get you to your intended goals that you might hope to achieve this decade.
So, why do we care about forgiveness and what influence might this have on how we will spend the next decade. First, let’s start by defining forgiveness! Forgiveness in clinical terms is defined as “an act of deliberately giving up resentment towards an offender while fostering the undeserved qualities of beneficence and compassion towards the offender” (Freedman & Enright, 1996, p.983). But of course, the million-dollar question is why forgive
In a recent Forgiveness Circle, an Ethiopian client stated the answer to this question in a concise, but unforgettable way, that “we forgive so that we can live a high-quality life,” and I could not agree more. Forgiveness is for us and not for those who hurt us. As you might know, unforgiveness has been linked to illnesses, syndromes, depression, and all kinds of sicknesses. So, why then do we choose not to forgive? Why do we keep drinking the poison is (unforgiveness thinking that someone else will be hurt? Again, allow me to share a few reasons or forgiveness “blockers,” as I call them that I have encountered in my practice about why people choose not to forgive.
These forgiveness “blockers” are prevalent and include, pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, pompousness, and merely a belief that your standards are higher than even God’s. So, God can say we must forgive, but we don’t agree and won't. These forgiveness “blockers” continue to help us to justify a stance that robs us of joy, peace, happiness, and contentment, and effaces any desire for any decent standard of life. Choosing unforgiveness is weaker than choosing to forgive, and we know it, but often we want this option anyway since “no one has been hurt as badly as we have.” Of course, this is a lie from the pits of hell and a strategy of the enemy meant to keep us in bondage. So, let me challenge you in 2020 to move to the light and life that forgiveness brings. You can do so by taking a few steps. These steps are as follows:
First, forgive yourself, your parents, family members, friends, enemies, and anyone that has ever hurt you in your past. Nothing is worth losing peace and sleep about.
Second, know your “why.” For any behavior change to work, understanding your “why” is the linchpin for success. So, for instance, my “why” for always choosing to forgive is that I would like to live to see my oldest grandson, Luke Jacob, walk down the aisle. He is now seven years old, so I need to I MUST forgive and keep living a healthy lifestyle even to have the potential to attend this wedding. This is on my Vision Board! Only God knows if it is possible, but I am working hard to realize this “why.” But your “ why” might be different from mine, but find the “why,” and that will help with the how and what. Only then can you get to your goal in 2020.
Third, stop self-criticizing. This self-criticism drags you down and often allows us to think that we don’t deserve to be happy at work, at home, and in other parts of our lives. You are good enough to be forgiven, to forgive, and to be loved. You are valuable to God and the human race. Remind yourself of this always!
Fourth, learn to be content wherever you are in your life. For example, if you are divorced and need to forgive your ex, forgive them, and then learn to thrive as a successful single adult. The world has not ended and your best years are still ahead of you! Take some deep breaths and keep going; God always has the last say. Trust in with your dreams. Only he can take what the enemy planned to harm you and turn it around for good. Believe me; he is still doing that today!
Fifth, as you contemplate the changes that you will need to be happy, peaceful, and whole again, consider setting micro-resolutions. In other words, start with resolutions for a week, then expand to a month, later a quarter, etc. Many times we are trying to do too much, too quickly, and miss the need to make slow but steady progress towards our goals. So, try micro-resolutions in 2020. Who knows, this might be the only way to get to the goals you seek in 2020.
So, in summary, as you stare into the brink of the next decade, know your “why”, forgive, stop self-criticizing, and learn to be content in whatever state you find yourself in so that you can have the high –quality life that you so desperately deserve. Happy New year to the new you! So, what do you think? Please share with us what might be your new year resolutions, and how if any practicing forgiveness will help or hinder your progress, and any thoughts about this blog.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on December 17, 2019 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
Bullying and Racism
Bullying, whether on-ground or online, has continued to be very pervasive across America. In 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that one in five students report being bullied at school. In addition, 33% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice each month. Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 12% were the subject of rumors; 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose. A slightly higher portion of female than of male students report being bullied at school (23% vs. 19%). In contrast, a higher percentage of male than of female students report being physically bullied (6% vs. 4%) and threatened with harm (5% vs. 3%). The reasons for being bullied, reported most often by students, include physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation.
Bullying can have a significant impact on children, and according to the Centers for Disease and Control (2017), students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression. Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches. Additionally, youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment. So, bullying can have long –term effects on children and must be stopped.
Most of these data that I just provided were collected from children between 12 to 18 years of age, but it begs the question what might be happening to children that are below the age of 12. I am not sure who might be collecting these data, but a recent incident with my grandsons prompted this question for me. On a recent Friday evening trip to visit a cousin in Boca Raton, my grandsons, one seven years of age and the other 4 were outside playing with their 6 year old cousin when these bigger boys, 12 and 14, started picking on them. After bullying them for a while, the bullies then started calling the “N” word. No one know what happened next, but the bullies found themselves being beaten by the kids they were bullying.
Later that evening, as luck would have it, the parents of the bullies came knocking on the door of my relative. These parents came looking for the “big boys” who were in an altercation with their sons. Of course, no “big boys” were to be found anywhere and when the seven year old shared what happened, the parents reported being shocked to hear that their kids were bullies and even more horrified to hear about the words that were used during the bullying incident. Of course, they were apologetic, but my son and his wife are still working to counsel and support my grandsons as they process what actually happened to them on their visit to their cousin. As a part of this they have discussed how to forgive these bullies and to stand up for themselves if something like this ever happens again.
Unfortunately, children who are bullies often grow up to become adult bullies, wreaking havoc on those who are defenseless at work or in relationships. So, the quicker on-ground or cyber bullying is nipped in the bud, the better for the bully and for his/her victim. As a child who was bullied, I internalized the names and had very low self-esteem, so can only imagine what ramifications bullying might have on my grandsons and other very young children that are bullied. As we learn to forgive those who have bullied us, we must also work to end bullying in all its forms and remind bullies that they need to reach out for help since their bullying is coming from a place of hurt and need.
What are you seeing in your community as it relates to bullying? Please let me know by sharing your story.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the FFH Team
|Posted by email@example.com on November 30, 2019 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Lung Cancer Month: One Family’s Story
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2019), lung cancer is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. CDC reported that cigarette smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer in the nation, and is linked to about 90% of lung cancer cases. In fact, people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. Even smoking a few cigarettes a day or smoking occasionally increases the risk of lung cancer (CDC, 2019). Additionally, the more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day, the more risk for lung cancer goes up. But, quitting smoking at any age can lower the risk of lung cancer. Interestingly, the (CDC, 2019) also reported that cigarette smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body. In fact, cigarette smoking causes cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voice-box (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.
November is observed in the U.S. as lung cancer awareness month and with these startling statistics, one wonders how to reduce one’s risk for this condition. So, preventing this condition should be top of mind for most of us. Unfortunately, this November, lung cancer became a reality for our family when my oldest brother was diagnosed with the disease. For me with decades of experience in public health, this was no longer a public health statistics, but lung cancer now had a face. On a recent visit, as I watched my brother cough and struggle to breathe, sadness and a feeling of helplessness washed over me. He had refused surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatment options and had one wish, he wanted to go home to Jamaica. I felted even more helpless and confused as he explained that he was 68 years of age and at peace. Unwillingly, I had to resign myself to honoring his wishes and to support him and his plans for managing his condition.
But, what you might ask got us to this diagnosis? You guess it, smoking! As the statistics showed, my brother became addicted to cigarettes and smoked for an extensive period. Like most smokers, he tried to quit several times, but never successfully escaped the addiction to tobacco. So, what now for our family you might ask? We will work hard to honor my brother's wishes to return to Jamaica where he feels that he will be more active and comfortable. We will continue to pray and fast for a miracle. Most importantly, we pray that he will rededicate his life to Christ, so that true peace can be his for all eternity.
So, what is the message for those in my family or yours this November as we work to build awareness about lung cancer? What messages do we provide for those who smoke, have tried to smoke, or are considering smoking? I am glad you asked. First, CDC suggests that you don’t start to smoke if you are not currently smoking. Next, if you smoke, call the Quitline to get help quitting. Third, avoid second-hand smoke at all cost. Fourth, lower exposure to workplace risk factors, and finally, lower your exposure to radon. While this might seems like quite a list, these are all attainable goals which if achieved can lower one’s risk for lung cancer, and provide a better outcome to your family than what we are currently dealing with in mine.
As we look to build awareness about lung cancer and to reduce the number of smokers in the United States, please share your family stories with us about this or other forms of cancer, and keep my brother and our entire family in your thoughts and prayers.
Until next time!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on October 28, 2019 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Violence in America: A Call to Action
Interpersonal violence, which includes child abuse and neglect, youth violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and elder abuse, affects millions of US residents each year. In recent days, however, the rate of violence seems to have escalated exponentially. In the Metro Atlanta area, it seems that daily shootings are becoming the norm more than the exception, and I am honestly now scared of watching the television.
Yet, reality and the happenings in our own backyards seem to become scarier by the hour. On a recent trip, I could not help but overhear a mother as she tried to keep calm as the doctor talked with her about her son’s condition in a Jacksonville hospital. He had been shot over 13 times between August and October and was at the brink of death. As she kept repeating “the doctors say that it does not look good”, to the myriad of callers, my heart broke for her and silent tears flowed down my face as I imagine this being my son. What does anyone do to deserve to be shot 13 times? Nothing! It seems that anarchy has gripped America. We discuss our differences with guns, we disagree with bullets, and we are seething with hate for self and others.
As I returned to Atlanta and shared this story, my colleague recalled another incident that hit below the belt. Why? This story involved a young man, just graduated and headed to college at my daughter's former High School (she graduated in 2017) that was shot to death three weeks ago after he walked out of a convenience store. To add insult to injury, the shooter returned to the scene to finish off the recent graduate. There is another story of a 14-year old that hid behind the house of a senior citizen in downtown Atlanta and attacked the individual as she pulled into her driveway to rob her at gunpoint of her cellphone. The quick-thinking senior citizen threw the cellphone towards them, and darted for the safety of her home. Fortunately, these 14 years old were quickly arrested, but imagine the kind of life they have started to build for themselves.
But one wonders, what does the home life of these children look like? Hopelessness? What factors have contributed to this syndrome? And what vision do they have for their future? What might be the role of post-traumatic slavery syndrome and other stressors in all of this? What can we do to save this generation? These are all big questions and it will take more than a blog to answer these, but given the propensity for violence in the United States and the average citizen packing on every street corner, the time is ripe for these conversations. Where to begin, so that other lives are not needlessly cut short? What is the role of forgiveness in all of this? How can we take back our streets, neighborhoods, and nation? Who is going to lead? What is the role of prayers and Christ-followers in all of this? I am afraid that I have more questions than answers, but I am overwhelmed. So, please free to join me in praying for our leaders and nation, and let us discuss our options as we try to stem this tide of violence in our land.
We need God to heal our land!
Yours in Christ!
|Posted by email@example.com on September 27, 2019 at 10:00 PM||comments (5)|
What I Learned at the 2nd Annual Forgiveness and Wellness Conference
The 2019 International Day of Peace and the 2nd Annual Forgiveness and Wellness Conference have taken their places in the history books and participants are slowly returning to their lives. But alas, the outcome of the conference is just beginning to manifest itself. So, what did anyone learn at the conference and what outcomes can one expect? I am glad you asked.
The 2nd annual conference was envisioned as an opportunity to bring forgiveness allies, the man in the street, and other stakeholders together to talk about the issues of trauma and forgiveness. With the theme, “moving to the light of forgiveness after life’s trauma”, participants were in for a day chock full of sessions that addressed a variety of traumatic life experiences, adverse childhood events, racism, discrimination, etc. The conference used a variety of learning opportunities, including, lectures, roundtables, discussion groups, etc. Speakers from public health as well as from faith-based organizations came together to pour into attendees that day. As might be expected, the conference started with prayers, the peace bell, and a moment of silence in honor of a registrant who was buried the day before the event, and countless men and women across the world that have lost their lives and or still live in dispeace.
The training sessions started with presentations that focused on why someone should come to the light of forgiveness, the power of forgiveness from God’s perspective, the impact of adverse childhood experiences and ones’ health, and ended with a session that looked at the connection between forgiveness and mental health, a forgiveness cleansing ceremony, and Holy Communion. Throughout the day, many could be heard crying, seen wiping tears, praying for and encouraging one another or just excited that they took the time to invest in their spiritual growth. In fact, our attendee that had traveled the farthest to attend the conference came all the way from New York. This was a journey of faith, but this sister had a need and realized that she could get help if she traveled to Atlanta, and so she did
Because of the excellent program and faculty, many attendees are already reporting significant outcomes from the conference. For instance, one church member reported that church service the following day was on a higher plane, and she could sense that prayers and praise, and worship were more free-flowing and to “an audience of one”, and not forced. Others are reporting breakthroughs in their personal lives and in their relationship with man and God, as they feel like they left their burdens at the conference. One individual called to report how at peace she felt, but that nothing else in her life had changed (bills were still behind and the kids were still misbehaving). However, she was experiencing an almost supernatural calm and peace that makes no sense in the natural. God had invaded many lives and the results of the conference will not be known for years to come. But we know that they will be there. Our prayers are that this “seed” will fall on fertile soil and bring in a harvest.
But what were some of the key take-aways from this conference? Again, I am glad you asked. Here are some gems that I picked up throughout the day.
• Forgiveness is a choice that you do for yourself not for the other person.
• Seeking God’s help as you forgive is critical for success.
• Physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health are all connected to forgiveness.
• Unforgiveness is not a word.
• More than 50% of Americans have experienced one or more adverse childhood events.
• Forgiveness in marriage, divorce, after abuse, etc. is critical for personal growth and reconciliation, if that is one’s goal.
• Forgiveness is not avoidance and does not mean that one has to have a relationship with the transgressor.
• Mismanagement of money, mindless eating, self-abuse, etc. can all be symptoms of unforgiveness.
• Completing a forgiveness assessment can help one to find a place to start the journey to true healing and forgiveness.
• The church should be a center of hope, forgiveness and restoration in our community.
We can all agree that this conference was one of a kind and life-changing. But, what were your key takeaways? What differences have you already noticed in your life? We would love to hear from you, if you have a story to share. Also, if you have videos or pictures from the conference, please send those our way to our Facebook page or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message on our website at forgive4health.org
I am so glad that you attended the conference if you did, if not, mark your calendar for September 18, 2020 for our 3rd annual conference. Hope to see you there.
In His service!