The Barnabas Encouragement Connection

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December 2021

Safer Ways to Celebrate Holidays (

Holiday traditions are important for families and children. There are several ways to enjoy holiday traditions and protect your health. Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible.

Here are safer ways to celebrate the holidays:

  • Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.
  • Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
  • Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
  • Outdoors is safer than indoors.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
  • If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or had close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Click here to read the entire article

Sis Tonya Smith 
May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Dear Child - When Black Parents Have To Give "The Talk"

May 11, 2020

Anxiety by Sister Tonya Smith

“Excessive worry that is past or future-focused. It centers on thoughts about what already happened or what might happen”.

I thought the topic of anxiety would be appropriate for such a time as this. The impact of COVID-19 brings on a level of stress, fear, and anxiety for all of us. I can’t think of one person that has not been touched by COVID-19. Some have lost loved ones through death, some have lost businesses, some have lost a sense of security and freedom, and the list goes on. We’re definitely in a place and space in time that we’ve never been before. Feelings of uncertainty are present as we continue to follow the headlines. We search for answers that no one seems to be able to answer. “When will it be over”? “When can I safely venture out of my home”? “What will the new normal look like”? The lack of answers makes it all too easy to catastrophize and spiral out into overwhelming dread and panic. 

I want you to know that feeling anxious is a normal emotion and response to uncertainty. Although we often view anxiety as a negative, a little bit of anxiety can actually be helpful. It helps us to be more attentive, more attuned to things around us, and serves a catalyst for positive change. Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. But, for some people it can become an ongoing problem. Anxiety can become a problem when it becomes all-encompassing, invading our thoughts and emotions, and determining our behavior. Anxiety becomes a problem when it becomes life-limiting, preventing you from living a life that reflects your goals, desires, and values.

Anxiety is treatable. But, some people never get help. Reasons vary from being unaware that anxiety is treatable, they may perceive getting help as a weakness, they may see it as a sign of spiritual failure, or they fear the stigma associated with mental illness. Because of these reasons and others, those with anxiety may not get the help that’s available. Please know that Christians are not immune to anxiety. Even those who have faith and trust in God.

If you or the people you care about are experiencing anxiety, I encourage you to reach out for help. 

I have included a list of 10 tips to cope with anxious feelings during COVID-19: (Not a substitute for professional help) 

  1. Pray and meditate on the Word of God (Study verses about fear and anxiety)
  2. Practice gratitude and respond with compassion to ourselves and others
  3. Focus on things you can control
  4. Stay connected with family and friends to minimize isolation and loneliness
  5. Step away from media (TV and social media) – Be mindful about how social media is making you feel (anxious?)
  6. Stay active. Find creative ways to exercise indoors (if going outside is not an option)
  7. Challenge your negative thoughts
  8. Practice sleep hygiene (combination of behaviors and environment surrounding sleep)
  9. Stay hydrated and eat healthy foods
  10. Know when to reach out to a professional counselor for help

COVID-19 and Your Mental Health

Worries and anxiety about COVID-19 and its impact can be overwhelming. Social distancing makes it even more challenging. Learn ways to cope during this pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely brought many changes to how you live your life, and with it uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures and social isolation. You may worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last and what the future will bring. Information overload, rumors and misinformation can make your life feel out of control and make it unclear what to do.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may experience stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. And mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can worsen.

Learn self-care strategies and get the care you need to help you cope.

Self-care strategies
Self-care strategies are good for your mental and physical health and can help you take charge of your life. Take care of your body and your mind and connect with others to benefit your mental health.

Take care of your body

Be mindful about your physical health:

  • Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day. Stick close to your typical schedule, even if you're staying at home.
  • Participate in regular physical activity. Regular physical activity and exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Find an activity that includes movement, such as dance or exercise apps. Get outside in an area that makes it easy to maintain distance from people — as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) or your government — such as a nature trail or your own backyard.
  • Eat healthy. Choose a well-balanced diet. Avoid loading up on junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine as it can aggravate stress and anxiety.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs. If you smoke tobacco or if you vape, you're already at higher risk of lung disease. Because COVID-19 affects the lungs, your risk increases even more. Using alcohol to try to cope can make matters worse and reduce your coping skills. Avoid taking drugs to cope, unless your doctor prescribed medications for you.
  • Limit screen time. Turn off electronic devices for some time each day, including 30 minutes before bedtime. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone.
  • Relax and recharge. Set aside time for yourself. Even a few minutes of quiet time can be refreshing and help to quiet your mind and reduce anxiety. Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga or meditation. Soak in a bubble bath, listen to music, or read or listen to a book — whatever helps you relax. Select a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.

Take care of your mind

Reduce stress triggers:

  • Keep your regular routine. Maintaining a regular schedule is important to your mental health. In addition to sticking to a regular bedtime routine, keep consistent times for meals, bathing and getting dressed, work or study schedules, and exercise. Also set aside time for activities you enjoy. This predictability can make you feel more in control.
  • Limit exposure to news media. Constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media can heighten fears about the disease. Limit social media that may expose you to rumors and false information. Also limit reading, hearing or watching other news, but keep up to date on national and local recommendations. Look for reliable sources such as the CDC and WHO.
  • Stay busy. A distraction can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. Enjoy hobbies that you can do at home, identify a new project or clean out that closet you promised you'd get to. Doing something positive to manage anxiety is a healthy coping strategy.
  • Focus on positive thoughts. Choose to focus on the positive things in your life, instead of dwelling on how bad you feel. Consider starting each day by listing things you are thankful for. Maintain a sense of hope, work to accept changes as they occur and try to keep problems in perspective.
  • Use your moral compass or spiritual life for support. If you draw strength from a belief system, it can bring you comfort during difficult times.
  • Set priorities. Don't become overwhelmed by creating a life-changing list of things to achieve while you're home. Set reasonable goals each day and outline steps you can take to reach those goals. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. And recognize that some days will be better than others.

Connect with others

Build support and strengthen relationships:

  • Make connections. If you need to stay at home and distance yourself from others, avoid social isolation. Find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone, or FaceTime or similar apps. If you're working remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they're doing and share coping tips. Enjoy virtual socializing and talking to those in your home.
  • Do something for others. Find purpose in helping the people around you. For example, email, text or call to check on your friends, family members and neighbors — especially those who are elderly. If you know someone who can't get out, ask if there's something needed, such as groceries or a prescription picked up, for instance. But be sure to follow CDC, WHO and your government recommendations on social distancing and group meetings.
  • Support a family member or friend. If a family member or friend needs to be isolated for safety reasons or gets sick and needs to be quarantined at home or in the hospital, come up with ways to stay in contact. This could be through electronic devices or the telephone or by sending a note to brighten the day, for example.

Recognizing what's typical and what's not

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. Everyone reacts differently to difficult situations, and it's normal to feel stress and worry during a crisis. But multiple challenges daily, such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, can push you beyond your ability to cope.

Many people may have mental health concerns, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression during this time. And feelings may change over time.

Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious or afraid. You may have trouble concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches and pains, or difficulty sleeping or you may struggle to face routine chores.

When these signs and symptoms last for several days in a row, make you miserable and cause problems in your daily life so that you find it hard to carry out normal responsibilities, it's time to ask for help.

Get help when you need it

Hoping mental health problems such as anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. If you have concerns or if you experience worsening of mental health symptoms, ask for help when you need it, and be upfront about how you're doing. To get help you may want to:

  • Call or use social media to contact a close friend or loved one — even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
  • Contact your employee assistance program, if your employer has one, and get counseling or ask for a referral to a mental health professional.
  • Call your primary care provider or mental health professional to ask about appointment options to talk about your anxiety or depression and get advice and guidance. Some may provide the option of phone, video or online appointments.
  • Contact organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for help and guidance.

If you're feeling suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself, seek help. Contact your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Or call a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat at

Continue your self-care strategies

You can expect your current strong feelings to fade when the pandemic is over, but stress won't disappear from your life when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends. Continue these self-care practices to take care of your mental health and increase your ability to cope with life's ongoing challenges.

May 18, 2020


Research shows that when a stressful situation such as COVID-19 arises, people often experience significant changes in their eating behaviors. During stressful times, it is common to start to eat (or not eat) in a conscious or unconscious effort to soothe negative emotions.If we combine the stress and uncertainty due to COVID-19 with social distancing and long stretches of time at home, we have a recipe for emotional eating. WHAT IS EMOTIONAL EATING? We don’t always eat just to satisfy physical hunger. Many of us also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves. And when we do, we tend to reach for junk food, sweets, and other comforting but unhealthy foods. You might reach for a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day at work. Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better — to fill emotional needs, rather than your stomach. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. In fact, it usually makes you feel worse. Afterward, not only does the original emotional issue remain, but you also feel guilty for overeating. When your first impulse is to open the refrigerator or visit your pantry whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored — you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.


Before you can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, you first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. This can be trickier than it sounds, especially if you regularly use food to deal with your feelings.

Emotional hunger can be powerful, so it’s easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for to help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).

Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.

Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.

Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.

Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells.

Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.


Become aware of your triggers. Recording what, when and how you feel in a food diary can help you identify your triggers. By understanding what prompts the eating, you can learn to anticipate challenging moments and plan to cope differently.

Do a hunger reality check. When you find yourself reaching for food, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Signs of hunger include a growling stomach, headache and low energy. If your last meal was more than four hours ago, you might be hungry. If it was within the last two hours, chances are it’s not hunger. 

Do an emotion reality check. After determining if you are truly hungry, ask yourself, “Why am I reaching for food?” and “How do I feel right now?” This can help you figure out if emotions are triggering your eating, what they are and get you started dealing with them.

Find other ways to manage stress and negative emotions. Try journaling, meditation, stretching, calling a friend, exercise, deep breathing or any other non-food related way to cope.

May 25, 2020

Sleep Hygiene

“…for He grants sleep to those He loves” (Psalm 127:2 , NIV)


(The term used to describe good sleep habits)

Focusing on sleep is a natural fit for working on self-care. Getting enough sleep can benefit our immune system, which reduces the risk of infection and can improve outcomes for people fighting a virus. Lack of sleep actually weakens the body’s defense system making people more vulnerable to contracting a virus.

Getting enough sleep helps regulate mood, improve brain function, and increase energy and overall productivity during the day.

Elevated stress and an overload of information (news updates, social media) can keep the mind racing and elevate the body’s arousal system response, triggering insomnia.

10 Sleep Hygiene Tips

1. Train your body to sleep well. Go to bed and get up close to the same time every day. This regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your body something to work from.


2. Get up and try again. If you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again. Avoid doing anything too stimulating or interesting, as this will wake you up even more. 

3. Bed is for sleeping. If you use your bed as a place to watch TV, eat, read, work on your laptop, pay bills, and other things, your body will not learn this connection. 

4. No naps. It is best to avoid taking naps during the day to make sure that you are tired at bedtime. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap, make sure it is for less than an hour and before 3pm. 

5. Sleep rituals. You can develop your own rituals of things to remind your body that it is time to sleep - relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for 15 minutes before bed each night or sit calmly with a cup of caffeine-free tea. 

6. Bath time. Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again. Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature. 

7. No clock-watching. Many people who struggle with sleep tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn on the light to read the time) and reinforces negative thoughts such as “Oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to sleep” or “it’s so early, I have only slept for 5 hours, this is terrible.” 

8. Exercise. Regular exercise is a good idea to help with good sleep, but try not to do strenuous exercise in the 4 hours before bedtime. Morning walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed! 

9. Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can also interrupt sleep. 

10. The right space. It is very important that your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable for sleeping. A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make sure you have curtains or an eye mask to block out early morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your room.

June 1, 2020

Coping with Grief and Loss

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 143:3).
Grief is a natural response to loss. We often associate grief with the death of a loved one which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief. Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges and can feel overwhelming. 

COVID-19 has created a new reality marked by grief and loss. It has forced us to process both individual and collective grief in the face of an uncertain future which we may feel powerless to control. Not only are we mourning the loss of thousands of lives, but we are also mourning the loss of normalcy.

We may also experience grief during other types of loss. Examples:

·        Loss of relationships (divorce, separation, strained family relationship)

·        Loss of Health (self or others)

·        Loss of independence (due to a disability, illness, or aging)

·        Loss of a job/financial instability

·        Loss of a dream/expectation for your future or that of your children

Common and unexpected emotional and physical reactions from grief may include numbness, shock and disbelief, sadness, anger, guilt, regret, fear, difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, or social withdrawal. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Each person will grieve in their own way. It often depends on factors such as your personality, your coping skills, your life experiences, your faith, how significant the loss was to you, and the level of support from others.
There is no “normal” timeline for grieving. Healing happens gradually and can’t be forced or rushed. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, not for years. It’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves.

Some Ways to Cope With Grief and Loss

Don’t grieve alone. Get support from family, friends, neighbors, members of your church, coworkers, or a support group.

Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain.

Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss in a journal. Or, write a letter saying the things you never got to say.

Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” There is no “getting over it”. You learn to adapt to the loss. Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment.

Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional surge and know that it’s completely normal.

Try to maintain your hobbies and interests. There’s comfort in routine and getting back to the activities that bring you joy and allow you to connect to others.

Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel healthy physically, you’ll be better able to cope emotionally.

Pray and meditate on the Word of God for comfort: Psalm 34:18; 147:3; Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:1; 16:22; 2 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

*About 1 in 10 people experience what is called complicated grief. Signs include intense longing for, intrusive thoughts, denial of the loss, difficulty moving on with life, and the inability to carry out normal daily functions. Those experiencing complicated should seek professional help. 

June 8, 2020


Why is high blood pressure dangerous?
If blood pressure rises and stays high over time, it is called hypertension ("Hi-per-ten-shun"). If it is not controlled, high blood pressure can cause:

·        Stroke
·        Kidney problems
·        Heart failure
·        Heart attack
·        Eye problems

Most people with high blood pressure feel healthy and do not have symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.

What do your blood pressure numbers mean?
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers. The first (or top) number—"systolic"—is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (or bottom) number—"diastolic"—is the pressure in your blood vessels between heartbeats.
If your blood pressure is normal, that’s’ great! You should have it rechecked every year or so to be sure it stays within the normal range.

If your blood pressure is pre-high or high, it should be rechecked to determine whether you have hypertension. Ask your provider the following questions:

·        When should I have my blood pressure checked again?
·        Do I need treatment for high blood pressure?

What can you do to prevent or control high blood pressure?
1.   Quit smoking and/or chewing tobacco. Ask your provider for help with quitting.

2.   Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, ask your provider for help with a plan to lose weight.

3.   Be physically active.
·      "Physical activity" includes any activity that raises your heart rate, such as brisk walking, working in the house or yard, or playing sports.
·      Do activity for 10 minutes or more at a time. Aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of activity each week. 

4.   Reduce salt (sodium) in your diet.
·       Read food labels. Choose and prepare foods that are low in sodium or are sodium-free. 
·       Ask to see a registered dietitian if you need help with a plan. 

5.   Limit alcohol.
·       Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day. 
·       Women should have no more than 1 drink per day.

What else can you do?
Always ask your provider what your blood pressure is and write it down. Keep track of your blood pressure numbers.
Here are some questions to ask your provider:

·        Is my blood pressure under good control?
·        How often should I have my blood pressure checked?
·        What is a healthy weight for me?
·        Is it safe for me to start doing regular physical activity?

June 15, 2020

Acid Reflux

What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is the backward flow of the stomach acids into the throat. When this happens, you may get a sour taste in your mouth or regurgitate food. In some cases, you may also feel a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn).

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you experience acid reflux more than twice a week, you may have Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this case, heartburn is just one of many symptoms, along with coughing and chest pain.
While conventional medicine is the most common form of GERD treatment, there are some home remedies you can try to reduce instances of acid reflux. Talk to your gastroenterologist about the following options.

1. Eat Foods That Fight Acid Reflux
One teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with half a glass of water.
Have coconut water throughout the day.
Incorporate coconut oil into your food.
Integrate lemon into your diet.
Drink chamomile tea.
Eat raw almonds.
Drink aloe vera juice.
A healthy diet containing fruits like applesbananaspineapple, and papaya, along with vegetables like carrotcabbage, and others are also helpful in keeping acid reflux at bay!

2. Don’t Lie Down After Eating
Wait at least 3 hours after eating before you lie down. This will help your stomach to better digest the food and avoid the unwanted reflux.

3. Aim For A Healthy Weight
While heartburn can happen to anyone, GERD seems to be most prevalent in adults who are overweight or obese.
Excess weight — especially in the abdominal area — puts more pressure on the stomach. As a result, you’re at an increased risk of stomach acids working back into the esophagus and causing heartburn.
If you’re overweight, the Mayo Clinic suggests a steady weight loss plan of 1 or 2 pounds per week. On the flip side, if you’re already considered to be at a healthy weight, then make sure you maintain it with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

4. Stop Smoking
Cut back smoking as much as you can; or better, quit smoking because it interferes with digestion and damages the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is responsible for preventing stomach acids from backing up.
Secondhand smoke can also be problematic if you’re fighting acid reflux or GERD.

5. Maintain An Inclined Position When Sleeping
Incline your bed with the head higher (10-15 cm) than the foot, so that when you sleep, the acid can’t back up. During the entire night, your esophagus will always be in a position that won’t allow it to activate the reflux.
It is better to place some blocks under you mattress, or under your bed’s legs to create the inclined surface, rather than using pillows right under your head.

6. Know YOUR Triggers
Different individuals have different food triggers.
Start writing down or taking photos of the foods or drinks that seem to instigate your reflux symptoms. In some cases, you may be able to cut a few prime offenders without making large dietary sacrifices.

7. Chew Gum
It may sound strange, but gum stimulates the production of saliva, which is an acid buffer. Plus, chewing gum makes you swallow more often, which pushes those nasty acids back out of your esophagus.

June 22, 2020


The recent and repeated incidents of police brutality in this country is a major public health problem and is taking a psychological toll on African American citizens everywhere.
The mental health consequences that form from these incidents are staggering; one namely being racial trauma.

What is Racial Trauma?

Physical and psychological symptoms that people of color often experience after being exposed - directly or indirectly - to particularly stressful experiences of racism.

Fear, depression, anxiety, angry outbursts, hypervigilance, headaches, insomnia, body aches, memory difficulty, self-blame, confusion, shame, and guilt.

Contributing Factors
Historical race-related events, inter-generational exchanges, cumulative personal/vicarious encounters.

May Result From
Racial harassment, discrimination, witnessing racial violence, or experiencing institutional racism.

Although all negative racial events do not result in trauma, it is important that we are increasingly aware of this topic.

What is Racial Trauma?

Actively reflect in order to identify your range of emotions. Accept those feelings and thoughts. Do not discount them. Individuals respond to experiences of trauma differently.

Utilize sources of support- friends, family, confidants, colleagues- in order to minimize the tendency to internalize racial experiences.

Seek Support
Seek personal support and self-explore through a counseling professional. Seek collective support and guidance from trusted mentors.

Balance mental/physical rest and activity/social interaction to offset the effects of race-based stressors.

Empowerment through Resistance
Engage in activities that make you feel empowered. Seek to promote change through community outreach and activism.
Jernigan,M.M.,Green,C.E.,Perez‐Gualdron,Liu,M.M,Henze,K.T.,Chen,C....Helms, J.E.(2015).#racialtraumaisreal.InstitutefortheStudyandPromotionofRaceandCulture,ChestnutHill,MA

June 29, 2020

How Extreme Heat Affects Your Brain And Body

The heat is more than just uncomfortable. Heat causes heat exhaustion, which can be dangerous. It could also prove to be deadly. The longer you spend in the heat, the more serious the effects on your body can be.

If you ever felt like the heat puts your brain into a fog — like the sensation of being in a steam room, where it is hard to breathe, much less think clearly — you are not alone.

Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures -- usually in combination with dehydration -- which leads to failure of the body's temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nauseaseizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke
The hallmark symptom of heat stroke is a core body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. But fainting may be the first sign.
Other symptoms may include:

Do not give them anything to drink.
Move them to a cool place.
Put cool cloths on them or put them in a cool bath.
Call 911.

July 2020

“Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Others”

“When you are a caregiver, you know that every day you will touch a life, or a life will touch yours.” — Unknown

Caregiving can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.  However, it can also be challenging. When someone you love becomes unable to care for themselves, it can be a heartbreaking experience for the whole family. As a caregiver, you see their struggles up-close and personal in a way others don’t.

You may be caring for an elderly parent or grandparent, or maybe a family member struggling with a physical or intellectual disability, or perhaps you’re caring for a family member with a mental illness. Caregiving can also be triggered by a major health event, such as a stroke, heart attack, cancer or accident.

As rewarding as caregiving can be, the stress and strain can take a toll on your health. It’s important to implement self-care strategies to take care of your own health while caring for others. Depending on your circumstances, some self-care strategies may be more difficult to carry out than others. Choose ones that work for you:

· Ask for help. Make a list of ways others can help. Admit when you are experiencing burnout and get help.
· Set realistic expectations—for yourself and your loved one.
· Get organized. Make to-do lists and set a daily routine.
· Try to take breaks each day. Finding respite care can help you create time for yourself or to spend with friends.
· Keep up with your hobbies and interests when you can.
· Join a caregiver’s support group. Meeting other caregivers may give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas.
· Eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, and exercise as often as you can.
· Learn the skills you need to care for your loved one and which ones you are not able to perform.
· Learn to set boundaries with others. Say “no” to things you cannot do.
· Most importantly, remember that taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of someone else.  (Practice the airplane rule of putting your face mask on first). 

August 2020

The Stress and Anxiety of Digital Learning During a Pandemic

Written by Armoni Overton
10th Grade
Highland High School SAISD
July 20th, 2020

  The digital world has come into play a lot more than before. One example of this would be digital learning. 
   Covid-19 has caused stress to students, teachers, and parents alike. Not only does everyone have to worry about staying safe, but students have to worry about how they're going to do this upcoming school year. 
    Digital learning is our way of life as students, and it's difficult. For students like me whose parents hold us to higher standards, and students who need extra help, it can get stressful. 
      Trying to get all your assignments from all your classes turned in on time is hard to do in person, so imagine how difficult it is digitally. There is an array of technical problems that could delay your assignment from getting turned in. Late and missing assignments cost points off your grade and affects your GPA, which is important to high school students. With all this extra stress it makes it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand, bringing anxiety.  
     For students who seek extra help and one on one sessions, the stress is there as well. Since Zoom is how we get most of our learning done, it’s always in use. The constant use of the app makes it lag and skip. That causes people to miss out on important and valuable information. On top of that, those students are already stressed and anxious about passing. 
     Being a digital teacher is stressful as well. Since the grade book locks at a certain time, they must rush through the many emails and classroom messages they get to get all the grades in on time. If grades are not put in on time, that affects the student. Putting aside all that work, teachers are people too and they have families to feed and keep safe. 
  This digital learning stress affects everyone and is something we're going to have to learn to cope with. My condolences to everyone during this global crisis.

September 2020

Christian Time Management

Time management experts and philosophers are fond of reminding us that our time is our life. Whatever controls our time, controls our life.

Most of us deal with some of these feelings at times:

  • “I can’t get everything done!”
  • “I am a slave to the clock—I can’t even take a breather!”
  • “I am busy all the time, but I never feel like I’m getting the important things done!”
  • “With so many pressing priorities, it can be hard to know what to do next.”
  • “When I take a day off, time just seems to slip away and I feel like it was a wasted day.”

We face different time challenges, but generally we have the same desire: To make the best use of our time to accomplish the things we feel are truly important.

The thing that makes Christian time management different is the source of what we consider important. That source is God. So, a good starting place is to consider how God looks at time and what He wants us to learn from time management.

How God views time

God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15). Since He created time, the mind-boggling truth is that He was around forever before time even existed!

To try to help us get a little of God’s perspective, the Bible says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). God is unrestricted by time.

But though God is not controlled by time the way we humans are, He still puts great emphasis on it. He is always punctual—He always acts at the right time (even though to us humans it may seem like we have to wait a long time). He also has set aside certain times that He has blessed—for our benefit. These are designed to teach us important lessons and to reveal His plan to us.

God created time as a tool. We were put in this universe of time to learn many lessons and to develop the character of God. Christian time management means learning to use time as God wants us to use it.

What God wants us to learn from time management

To become more like God, we need to learn to have His priorities. We need to learn to use those priorities to produce a plan for improving our lives and aligning them to God’s plan. And we need to put those plans into action. God’s priorities and plans always produce results, and so can ours.


God reveals to us what is truly most important in life. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

The end of Matthew 6:33 reveals an amazing thing about God’s priorities. If we put what God says is important first, the other things we need and want will be added to us as well!

We can’t take charge of our time without clearly defining our priorities. We must schedule what matters most first, or it will be pushed out by the hundreds of urgent and persistent things that come at us each week.

“To master time management is to set priorities among your goals. There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do what is important,”

Our priorities become more real when we write them down as goals and rank them in order of importance. But goals can be just so much “someday I’ll” thinking unless we take the next step. We need a plan to get from “Someday Isle” to success.


The Bible reveals a God who is a Planner. And He wants us to be planners too. We need long-range plans, annual plans and daily plans—and probably several plans in between.

Let’s look at planning at its most immediate level. Based on God’s priorities, what does He want us to put into our schedule for each day?

  • Plan time for God. This includes time for praying to God (study Psalm 55:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17. He also wants us to study His Bible daily, as the Bereans did (see Acts 17:11).
  • Plan time for family and friends. Relationships take a commitment of time together. For example, God commands parents to spend time teaching their children (Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:7).
  • Plan time for work. The Fourth Commandment tells us that work should take place during the first six days of the week so that we will be ready to obey the command to not work on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11).
  • Plan time for health: eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and exercise.
  • Plan time for household chores and maintenance. (Don’t be like the guy in Proverbs 24:30-34!)
  • Plan time for learning. The Bible extols the importance of continued lifelong learning: “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5).
  • Plan time for rest and recreation. Jesus took His disciples away from the crowds at times to try to reduce the stress and be rejuvenated (Mark 6:31).

Performance with urgency and diligence

To implement our planned schedule requires constant motivation, focus and persistence. To choose the truly important, we must wisely act, not just react to the urgent things that come at us.

God gives us a number of reminders and prods to help us see the urgency of practicing our priorities and plans.

He tells us to count our days—to recognize how short life is and how precious every day is. That should lead us to make full use of our time. The apostle Paul encouraged us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

God wants us to recognize that every minute counts and should be used in a godly way. God is diligent, and He wants us to learn diligence and avoid laziness (Proverbs 12:24, 27; 13:4).


October 2020


Blood cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made by your liver. Blood cholesterol is essential for good health. Your body needs it to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and digesting fatty foods.

Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.” Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.

  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called “plaque.” As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing blocks blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

Your body makes all of the cholesterol it needs, so you do not need to obtain cholesterol through foods. Eating lots of foods high in saturated fat and trans fat may contribute to high cholesterol and related conditions, such as heart disease.

What you can do:
  • Limit foods high in saturated fat. Saturated fats come from animal products (such as cheese, fatty meats, and dairy desserts) and tropical oils (such as palm oil). Foods that are higher in saturated fat may be high in cholesterol.
  • Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt), and added sugars. These foods include lean meats; seafood; fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt; whole grains; and fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat foods naturally high in fiber, such as oatmeal and beans (black, pinto, kidney, lima, and others) and unsaturated fats, which can be found in avocado, vegetable oils like olive oil, and nuts). These foods may help prevent and manage high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol levels.

Overweight and obesity raise levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Excess body fat affects how your body uses cholesterol and slows down your body’s ability to remove LDL cholesterol from your blood. The combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.

What you can do:
  • To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate your body mass index(BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website. Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure excess body fat.
  • Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight is for you.
  • Work with your doctor on a food and fitness plan to help you reach or maintain a healthy weight.

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

What you can do:
  • Get active as a family. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day.
  • Make physical activity a part of each day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little farther away, walk to the store, or do jumping jacks during commercials.

Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease.

What you can do:
  • Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit.

Too much alcohol can raise cholesterol levels and the levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood.

What you can do:
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one.

November 2020

Thanksgiving During COVID-19 Pandemic.
High, Low, and Moderate Risk Activities

The CDC is serving some guidance on how to celebrate Thanksgiving safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials say:

Low-risk activities include:

· A small dinner with people in your home
· Having a virtual dinner with extended family and sharing recipes
· Watching sports, parades, and movies at home

Moderate-risk celebrations are things like:

· Small outdoor dinner with family and friends
· Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards
· Attending small outdoor sporting events


· Shopping in crowded stores and malls before or after Thanksgiving
· Going to crowded races or parades
· Large, indoor gatherings, dinners or parties, especially with people from outside your immediate family, pose the highest risk

The CDC says staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Continue to practice preventive measures - masks, social distancing, and handwashing.


December 2020

Some Christmas Reminders

May the Christmas GIFTS remind us of God’s greatest gift, His only Son.
May the Christmas CANDLES remind us of Him who is the “Light of the world.”
 May the Christmas TREES remind us of another tree upon which he died.
 May the Christmas CHEER remind us of Him who said, “Be of good cheer.”
 May the Christmas FEAST remind us of Him who is “the Bread of Life.”
 May the Christmas BELLS remind us of the glorious proclamation of His birth.
May the Christmas CAROLS remind us of the song the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest!”
 May the Christmas SEASON remind us in every way of Jesus Christ our King!
(Author: Unknown)

Grief and The Holidays

“Merry Christmas”! “Season’s Greetings”! “Happy Holiday”! “Feliz Navidad”! Many of us have embraced those phrases with great joy and anticipation over the years. We would look forward to the celebrations, sharing a meal with family and friends, exchanging presents, and continuing family traditions. I believe we can all agree that as a result of COVID-19, Christmas will look different this year. I’m sure we can also agree that this has been a particularly painful and difficult year. Many of us have experienced loss; some more losses than others. Some of us may even be asking the question, “how can I embrace or celebrate Christmas while grieving the loss of my mother, my brother, my sister, my grandmother, my job, my business, my______ (fill in the blank)”.  The reality is that we see loss all around us. We’re not only grieving our personal losses, but we’re grieving for our nation as a whole. Our losses can weigh even heavier in our hearts during the holiday season. We may also be having feelings of uncertainty of what’s going to happen in the weeks, months, or years to come. But, one thing we can be certain of is that God is still in control. In the midst of our grief, know that God sees our sorrow and our pain. He has not forgotten us. Remember that God continues to remain faithful in all things.

As we celebrate the holidays, here are 10 practical tips and reminders for coping with loss: 

1.    Remind yourself that God shows up in our grief and in our pain. Meditate on his Word
2.    Give yourself permission to be sad. Acknowledge your pain. If you need to cry, then cry. Crying is a way to release emotional stress
3.    Don’t isolate yourself - social isolation and loneliness can lead to depression
4.    Set healthy boundaries – don’t feel pressure to take on too much – you get to decide if you want to celebrate and/or how you want to celebrate
5.    Start new traditions - light a candle in honor of someone you lost, each person shares a precious memory of your loved one, share what you’re thankful for…
6.    Celebrate Christmas via ZOOM with family and friends across the country - open presents together, share recipes, eat dinner together…
7.    Recognize and accept what’s within your control and what’s outside of your control
8.    Practice self-care - exercise, eat right, practice sleep hygiene, limit social media/TV
9.    Reduce stress by resisting the urge to overspend. Maybe agree on non-tangible gifts
10. It’s OK to reach out for support through counseling or a grief support group

February 2021

“What Is God Calling You To Let Go Of In 2021?”

Spend some time in prayer as you ask God to reveal to you what you need to let go of as you enter into the New Year.

The things we hold onto, bear grudges, or perhaps feel angry and hurt about cloud our minds and prevent us from being the best we can be.

Letting go usually involves some form of forgiveness or acceptance – whether it’s yourself, someone else, a situation, or even an unknown third party. The irony is that whatever you’re holding onto, it’s probably hurting or bothering you much more than it does anyone else.

Letting go doesn't mean we condone a situation or behavior; it’s about lightening OUR load. Because when we let go of whatever is bothering us we set ourselves free and get to reclaim that energy for ourselves.

You don’t need to know HOW to let go, you just need to be WILLING. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it and change how you feel going forwards.

And remember - whatever you find it hardest to let go of is probably what you need to let go of the most…

While you may not wish to do anything about these right now, just listing what you need to let go of will raise your level of awareness and help you to loosen your grip. So, simply list on the attached worksheet what you’re holding on to, what slows you down, what riles you up, and anything that gets in the way of you being the best you can be. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to help you to let go of those things.


March 2021

Palm Sunday
March 28, 2021

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”  - John 12:12-19

Palm Sunday is the Christian holiday that occurs on the Sunday before Easter. This celebration commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mentioned in each of the four Gospels. Jesus entered the city knowing He would be tried and crucified and welcomed His fate to rise from the grave and save us from sin! Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the remembrance of Jesus' last days to the cross.
In many churches, Palm Sunday is observed by the blessing and sharing of palm branches symbolizing the branches placed in front of Christ as he entered into Jerusalem.
Let us praise God for sending His Son to earth, the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins, and our eternal life in Christ through faith.

April 2021

Good Friday
April 2, 2021

On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5). 

Easter Sunday
April 4, 2021

Easter is the day on which Christians remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, agreeing with the angel at the tomb: “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6-7). Jesus had promised before his death: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

June 2021

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is the name given to Emancipation Day by African Americans in Texas. On that day in 1865 Union Major-General Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3 to the people of Galveston. It stated: "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.

(Please click here for more information).

July 2021

August 2021

September 2021

Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke

When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here's why.

Whether you're guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that's no joke.

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but data is mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

· Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
· Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
· Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects

Laughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:

· Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses.
To read the entire article:

October 2021

November 2021

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40)

10 Tips for Family Caregivers
(It’s important to take care of yourself as you take care of others).

  1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone!
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression and don't delay getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!



Count your blessings instead of your crosses;

Count your gains instead of your losses.

Count your joys instead of your woes;

Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears;

Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your full years instead of your lean;

Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth;

Count on God instead of yourself.

~~Author Unknown.~~