• Erin E. McEndree

This season is not what you planned. Instead of Valentine's parties, Spring Break vacation, Easter celebrations, end-of-the-year parties and graduations you are being a teacher, staying home, sterilizing more, decluttering, cooking for an army (it feels like), being a detective for hard to find items and being creative with the new normal.

You could have never saw this coming. You could have never planned for this… Or could you have?

Life will throw curveballs often, but even a baseball player plans ahead at his response when one comes his way at 95 mph. He has knowledge of the curve which makes him adjust and better be able to handle it and respond appropriately.

What knowledge do you have to help you better adjust to curveballs in life? For example, I read everything. I read about different religions, mental illness, homosexual mindset, witches, the end times, and transgender issues. I can do this because I have a solid foundation in Christ that cannot be shaken. Because I have knowledge of a plethora of issues humans deal with, I have more love and compassion for the homosexuals in the classes I teach at work, more understanding for the mentally ill lady with multiple personalities (I love her), I was able to have an intelligent conversation with a man who used to be a Wiccan and I can show genuine love and caring for my daughter's friends who are gender confused.

My knowledge has prepared me to respond in a manner worthy of Christ and his similar response to the woman at the well, the men who spit in his face, Judas who betrayed him, the religious who turned on him, the lepers put out of the city and Matthew the dishonest tax collector.

So, has your knowledge prepared you for this epic shut down? If your knowledge focuses on how to be secure in this world, save money, have a car, keep the bad out and how to hold onto these temporary things, life will throw you a curveball when a death, a job loss, a virus or even a homeless man asking for money takes you off guard.

Knowledge of God‘s word and promises will never leave you shaken, disappointed, or unsettled if you put your trust in it. His word is joy, love and peace.

So what does your knowledge prepare you for? Is your knowledge rooted in temporal, worldly possessions that are easily eliminated OR eternal, heavenly knowledge that can not be shaken?

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Romans 8:35 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

  • Erin E. McEndree

Prisms filter light by splitting the rays into separate colors. That is why we see a rainbow. Red bends differently than violet and so on to create a fan-like shape. If another prism is put in the path of the rainbow’s separated colors, they are reassembled and revert back to an original point of light.

What prism do you use to gage life situations? Let's say the first one has all the shiny colors that entice the senses with fleshly temptations and false securities. The second one leads to a single point of light that sets you free from hurt, pain and deception.

When people ask how the COVID-19 virus is affecting my family’s life and how we are coping, I have two ways to respond: 1)with the first colorful prism covered in clouds, rain, darkness and uncertainly. The brilliant colors will never be seen again based on the world’s view, OR 2)with the second prism that has lead us back to the one point of constant, never-changing Light that is out of this world.

Yes, school is closed. My kids are doing on-line classes. Many things have been cancelled for my Senior and we are pretty sad about that. We haven’t seen grandparents or other family in longer than normal. My guys need haircuts badly. My nails are thin and sharp as knives since I peeled off the dip. Now I pick my face. But they are great for scratching backs apparently. These are all concerns I see thorough the prism clouded with concern. This virus has shown how unstable and unpredictable life and death and normalcy are on this earth.

However, I don’t compare myself or my situation to the world's impossible standard. I view my life and situation through the Word of God which results in One point of Light. Therefore, I realize that nothing that happens in my life defines me nor do I allow it to control me.

In an adoption support group I am a member of, this question was asked, “How has the COVID-19 affected you as an adopted person?” This question made me ponder what prism I view myself. Do I view myself through an adoptee prism? In this group the adoptee prism is made up of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and a sense of loss. As I looked beyond this world's definition, I realized I set my own definition of adoption. My definition is filtered through the second prism defined with love, choice, acceptance and purpose.

I realized that many adoptees filter their life through an adoption prism where clouds cover the rainbows. It leaves them doubting their worth and their purpose. Trouble is, the clouds over their one characteristic, being adopted, skew the image of the positive aspect of their life also. The clouds taint their whole life, not just one aspect of their life. The prism they filter everything through is defined by a cruel world with unfair circumstance. They don't realize it is temporary. They can't look beyond circumstances, pierces through darkness and rely on Supernatural guidance found only in the dot of Light.

If we find our identity in temporary things we control like career, spouse, status, vehicle, physic or friends, and we loose those things, we will be devastated. Then, when things we can't control storm into our lives such as neglect, rape, spousal abuse, a child’s death, a disease, being adopted or rejection from someone we love, since our identity is built on worldly things, we are plunged more deeply into despair.

1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 "We sent Timothy...to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials."

But what happens if we find our identity in the single ray of unchanging Light offered by the second prism? It is not as colorful and flashy as the first prism, but it comes with abundant peace, joy and hope.

I saw a commercial with an areal shot of Las Vegas. The skyline was dripping with lights. Blinking neon signs lured spectators to come and partake of the sketchy deeds inside. It touted hope that they would open again and be better than ever when they reopen. It made me think of the first prism. It made me think about what HOPE the city offered. It made me wonder about all the addictions being fed, all the lives destroyed, all the marriages being defiled and the marriages starting that should never be and end in divorce. All the glitzy lights promise despair, depression, disaster and destruction for so many thousands and thousands that succumb to its promises.

On the other hand, the second prism with the single point of Light promises joy in pain, peace in hurt and hope unending. The light in Christ shines faith on our worth and purpose based on what God says. The view is not skewed through the world. If you notice, the single ray of light is there in the beginning (see photo above). It is attainable because God’s promises are true. The Light is the power of God and is eternal. It is only skewed when we choose to apply temporal, unhappiness to our lives.

Dwelling in this Light, our identity is not what has happened to us, but our identity is what we do with what has happened to us. My identity is focused on the dot of light who is the One who can forgive, therefore I can forgive the abuser, the birth mother, the ex, the overbearing boss, the backstabbing friend, because I allow Jesus to work that supernatural power in me when I don’t feel it. I can give thanks IN (not for) the illness, the death, the rejection, the job loss and the tornado.

James 1:12 "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

If you are finding yourself in a pit of despair, examine what prism you are filtering your thoughts through. If you need help in that process, contact me through my website www.steepedinpurpose.com/contact

  • Erin E. McEndree

These days it is so hard to filter through the drama, devastation, lies and hopelessness. It is around every turn in our social media feeds. It is popping up in just about every commercial on the telly. It is in every conversation that starts with, "How are you doing during the shutdown?" We are reminded every day when we have our kids at home doing school, staying up way to late, sleeping all day as we stay home from work.

I urge you to do a couple of things to keep stress, anxiety and depression away. I believe it is possible to have a healthy, resilient and thriving life if you put these 4 simple things into practice in your life and the life of your family.

1. Turn off the news. Gain information on best practices for your family and turn off the news. I learned everything I needed to know in the first week and everything after that started a political tsunami that was not relevant to me. I can't do anything about shutdowns, new social distancing rules, governors banning what seems to be a great medication or anything outside my immediate community.

2. Focus on your immediate community. Call your neighbors when you go to the grocery store to see what they need. Plan to go out of your way to positively affect the people who live on your route to the store. Put a card in your neighbor's mailbox. Kids draw a picture and tape it to their front door. Infect your community with bright spots to help clear the gray clouds away. 3. Keep the gray clouds at bay with what you choose to focus on. These past few weeks have been cloudy, gray and cold. Winter has come back where I am. We have to be intentional about what we put in front of us and our family. This is my verse from now on, Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers and sisters whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Keep a gratitude chart on the table and have everyone write on it every day.

4. Don't dwell or focus on the negative. I can't get bogged down in the loss of my daughter's Senior year. No tennis meet and she was striving to go to State. No BETA convention and she was representing her school in the drawing contest that she already won 2nd place. Maybe no prom and her dress is beautiful. Maybe no graduation and all the family was coming and another opportunity for my parents and my birth mother's family to visit again. Her college tour is cancelled and will now be a virtual tour. WAIT!!! I am focusing on the negative (to make a point). I have to focus on the positive! I am spending more quality time with my family. We have a movie marathon going on. We planted a garden together. My new washing machine will be here Wednesday---I have't had to do laundry in over a week (that is positive, right?). I've found some good recipes. I have contacted all my neighbors when I go to the store and delivered them some groceries. Today, April 6th, is my husband's birthday. We are saving so much money not going out to eat. WHAT DO YOU FOCUS ON? Today, I started a new topic in my FB group: Rise Above Stress, Anxiety and Depression. I post every morning at 5am. I would love for you to join me for strategies to shift your mindset away from negative thoughts and how to reboot your brain to think on the positive when it wanders on its own. The link for Steeped In Purpose is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1182504291810649/ I would love to see you in the group! Where does your mind go when it wanders? I truly believe your focus determines your reality.