What are you looking at?

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One day while reading in the living room of the retirement home where she lived, Mildred glimpsed a woman on the opposite side of the room.  She thought about waving or saying good morning, but decided against making the effort because the woman didn’t look too friendly.  As she studied the Bible in her lap, the thought came to her that no matter how unfriendly the stranger might look, she could behave in a loving manner.

Mildred prayed quietly to see the woman as God saw her–lovely and perfect.  She smiled and nodded at the woman, and the woman smiled and nodded right back!  That’s when Mildred realized she was looking in a mirror, and that grumpy – now smiling–woman was her own reflection!

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The importance of compassion in healthcare

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Early in my spiritual healing practice I went to visit a homeless man who was living temporarily in a motel. He was suffering from extreme mental distress and intense fear.  I talked to him for a while, sharing ideas I hoped would calm and comfort him, but he only became irrationally angry with me, and as I got in the car to leave, he slammed the car door on my leg.

As he pushed and pushed, he said, “I am going to push this door until I break your leg.”  I was just quiet.  Soon, he let go.  I got out of the car and sat down in the parking lot with him and he talked for over an hour.  I listened, and we prayed together.  He quieted down, and stated he needed someone to listen to him and pray with him.  He was much better when I left.  Shortly after that, he found an apartment he could afford and lived there happily for quite a while.  From that experience, I learned the importance of compassion in helping others.

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Praying for our troops

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Memorial Day gives us the opportunity to remember those who have served this country in the armed forces and those who are currently serving.  While many of us fly our flags and have tears in our eyes when soldiers come home to their families, have we considered the importance of praying for the safety of our troops each day?

Perhaps we don’t pray for our troops because we don’t think it will have much effect, but the Bible promises, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5: 16), and there is ample proof that this is true.  There are so many accounts one can read of individuals who, in a time of great need, found God’s help right at hand.

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Learn to detox negative feelings

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This piece was published in the Naperville Sun print edition and The Chicago Tribune online edition.  Thanks for the publishing!  Here is the link:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/opinion/ct-nvs-mitchinson-column-st-0514-20170512-story.html

     More and more individuals are considering detoxing and cleansing their bodies of impurities for health reasons.   But interestingly, some of the most toxic problems we suffer are negative mental states.

For instance, research, as well as common sense, is increasingly showing the health risks of anger.  An Ohio State University study showed that those who had less control over their anger tended to heal more slowly from wounds.  In another study, researchers concluded that anger problems have been linked to all major causes of death (stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/anger_problems).

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Easing the stress of motherhood

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As Mother’s Day approaches, I wish a Happy Mother’s Day to every mom out there!  The demands on today’s moms are great.  Babies and toddlers need constant care, and as children grow there is homework to supervise, sports or dance activities to take kids to, counsel to offer regarding college choices, etc., not to mention meals to prepare, laundry to do, and financial obligations to meet!

But motherhood does not need to be overwhelming or frustrating, even during stressful situations.  I remember a flight I took to Los Angeles a few years ago in which a young mother was struggling with her crying infant.  The baby eventually fell asleep, but when he awoke, he began crying all over again.  Because of delays and rerouting, what was to be a four hour flight turned into a seven hour one, and the baby was not happy!

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More than mere positive thinking

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Positive thinking can be a great vehicle for getting through one’s day.  It can help one be more attentive, affectionate, cheerful and aware.  Co-workers would certainly prefer a positive thinker over a negative thinker.  The same is true for teachers, spouses, children and just about everyone.  But positive thinking has its limits – it deals with problems only on the surface, instead of getting to the root of them.

Some people may think of prayer as mere positive thinking – trying to make oneself feel better but not really changing anything.  Others think prayer is a blind faith that petitions a whimsical or uncertain God to do something for us, and hopes that He will do it.  

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Loving Jesus

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I love Jesus.  When I think of the blessings that have been brought into my life as a result of his teachings and experience, I am filled with awe.  Jesus is a voice for the ages, no matter who we are.  The Christ, Truth, he taught and lived truly is the Savior of the world, because no matter our religion, spiritual path or lack of one, he showed us a universal Father, a saving God of unconditional love.

As Easter approaches, I am not so impressed by the chocolate bunnies and baskets, or even the flowers and renewal of spring.  Instead I stand in wonderment of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as actual events that have great meaning for all of us today.  When faced with intense hatred and betrayal, as well as a death sentence, Jesus prayed to God, “Thy will be done,” a reiteration from his Lord’s Prayer given earlier in his career.

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Defeating professional burn-out

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I recently attended the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network Conference in Chicago.  Various participants spoke to me about the challenges faced by hospice and hospital chaplains, nurses, social workers and other healthcare providers, and a repeated theme was professional burnout.  According to The Lancet magazine, burnout is physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion resulting from long-term involvement in emotionally-demanding situations.

It’s not only the healthcare field that faces burnout.  Teachers, government workers, and police officers are among many groups that search for ways to combat exhausting professional stress and frustration.  In his book, The Oath, Jeffrey Toobin speaks of even the justices of the U. S. Supreme Court becoming tired, irritated, and on edge with each other at the end of a court term.

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Prayer as healthcare?

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I recently had a conversation with someone about health care.  When I told him that I was a Christian Scientist and depended upon prayer for the cure of illness, he mentioned that he felt Christian Science was “out there.”  He was kind and respectful, but behind his comment was the impression that prayer is not a dependable way to treat disease.

I understood his comment somewhat since most people consider drugs and surgery as the most effective, and often, the only treatment of disease; and prayer is often seen as an auxiliary to medicine.  But I have found prayer that brings new views of spiritual reality, to be very effective as my sole means of treating disease.  Everyone’s health choices are personal, and as a Christian Scientist, I am not under any church edict.  But prayer has met my health, as well as my religious, needs time and time again.

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Dissecting thought

 

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        A few years ago, my son took a college class in anatomy for his education degree.  One of his three-hour labs entailed dissecting a cat to review the parts and systems of the body for confirmation of what they had studied in class.  Although he’d been queasy, my son spoke with confidence that he had accomplished this task successfully.  

Dissection gives the student a picture of the physical being.  But there is another way to look at anatomy–one that relates to our thinking.  

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