Spiritual Care for First Responders During the Coronavirus Pandemic (or any time)

Spiritual Self-Care is Not Optional 

First Responder professionals are in a unique position during this worldwide crisis. The demands thrust upon us due to the need for our expertise are higher now than in “normal” times – especially because we face the same dangers as our patients with coronavirus. The stresses can be debilitating. We must take every precaution to mitigate the effects of stress on us as individuals so we can function at as high a level as is humanly possible during this pandemic. It is critical that we learn how to best care for ourselves so we can – to the best of our abilities – fulfill the responsibilities we have inherited by virtue of our professions.

It is important that we understand the best way to handle the stress. In a nutshell:

  1. Do your best to remain coronavirus-free
  2. Simplify
  3. Nutrition, exercise & sleep
  4. Support
  5. Be Flexible
  6. Know your limits
  7. Expression
  8. Talk about death
  9. Create a sacred space
  10. “Do”
  11. Pray
1. Follow health guidelines from the CDC and other trusted medical sources

Spiritual Self-Care includes caring for others. Healthy spirituality thinks of others ahead of oneself. Do your best to protect the health of yourself & those around you by implementing the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control, your healthcare institutions and other trusted medical authorities.

 

2. Simplify your life away from work 

You work long shifts and/or are on call many hours during the year. Home should be a place of respite. Yes, your family must be tended to & the housework must be done. Beyond that keep it simple. This crisis will not last forever.

Remember: You are a front-line first responder. You need down-time

 

3. Nutrition – Exercise – Sleep

Nutrition: Eat sensibly & healthily. Limit caffeine & other stimulants used to enhance performance. Limit your use of alcohol & other depressants for help in relaxing. You a;ready know the dangers if these things become habits.

Exercise: Structured & regular physical exercise promotes both psychological & physical health. It also fosters resilience. It relieves stress & releases endorphins. But exercise sensibly. Do not cause yourself injury. Schedule exercise time so it is not missed.

Sleep: Some of us need more sleep than others. In crisis you must be sure to get the amount of sleep your body, mind & spirit require.

In a crisis that might be more than usual

4. Support 
External & Internal support are both critical. Connect with trusted individuals who care for & who understand you.
Some first responders have partners. It might be that your partner can be trusted with your feelings about the things you both experience. Yet there is still that part of your being that your spouse/significant other can better help.
Be careful! You don’t want to vicariously traumatize your beloved.
Add internal spiritual support to your human interaction. You will this need for the times when you are alone or feel alone in this or any other crisis. This is to strengthen that spiritual part of you which can only be cared for by the Creator of your soul.
Spiritual self-care is not optional!
As a Christian, I rely upon God’s Word, the Bible.
If you are not of the Christian faith it would greatly benefit your spirit to explore the teachings of your faith-group or belief system regarding the things you feel as the result of serving in crises.
5. Be flexible – “go with the flow”

The “unwritten beatitude”: “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.”

 

Be smart. Life is not a plan “written in stone.” It’s a journey with many surprising twists & turns. Know when to make adjustments – course corrections. Changing course or a habitual schedule does not mean that your original plans were wrong. It signifies that you are a creative and wise person who knows when to change gears in order to better survive whatever your present circumstance in life might be. A new “life-list” might be a good thing.

The most psychologically resilient seem to have a “take one day at a time” attitude. This is neither lackadaisical nor unfocused. They have learned to appreciate “the moment” for what it is – an opportunity to do what they are trained to do – help alleviate human suffering one moment, one person at a time.

6. Know your limits

Your age & fitness level play a part. So does your spiritual foundation. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits while stretching yourself to extend those same limits.

You are not invincible. Ask for help whenever you feel stretched too far. You are in the midst of this pandemic along with everyone else. Stick to your new life-list. If your life-list needs adjusting, do it.

           Burn-out is possible. Schedule time off.

 

7. Expression

There is evidence showing that keeping a written journal specifically for your reactions during crisis promotes health & resilience. Poems, prose, drawings or whatever you feel best expresses your feelings. There’s no pressure to journal all that you experience. Maybe everything. Maybe only those things that leave a deep impression.

You choose

8. Talk about death…but not morbidly

People will contract COVID-19. Some will die. Death is something that makes most people uncomfortable and creates fear.  When searching your religious beliefs/belief system, learn about it’s teachings on death. Others – especially children – have questions. You should have some answers. But you won’t have them all. Collaborate with your religious/spiritual leaders for guidance in this.

9. Create a sacred place

Do not neglect your spirit. Look deeply at your religious beliefs/belief system. Search for the wisdom contained therein which speaks to the important things of life. Then prioritize your life in our “new normal” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Start each day with quiet time. If you have children, this might be difficult. But it’s necessary. Get up earlier. This should be on your newly prioritized life-list. Use these quiet moments to pray, meditate, read your Scriptures or whatever it is that soothes your soul. Starting in this manner will strengthen you all day.

Your “sacred space” can be wherever you are. Susanna Wesley, the mother of John & Charles Wesley, had 19 children, 9 of whom died. She was a woman of grief & so many children that her heart, mind & household were very busy. There was no Zen Garden to which she could retreat. It is said that her sacred space was under her apron. When she would realize that the hectic pace of life in her home was getting overwhelming, she would sit on a chair, flip her apron over her head, then pray. That was her sacred place. I suspect there were times she simply wept.

                                       Tend to your newly prioritized life-list with purpose of heart

10. “Do unto others”

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

Do because you love. Remember, love isn’t simply an emotion. Love is a proactive commitment to “do” for others – especially those nearest to your heart. Help your family & your community. “Doing” includes listening. Not only to their words, but to the unspoken words of their hearts. In crisis – or even when things are not critical – others want to be heard.

                                                         Just listening  shows that you care

11. Pray…for yourself, with & for others
It is not selfish to pray for yourself

“Pray” sometimes seems kind of nebulous. What does it really mean?
Many words in the Bible are translated by the English word “prayer”:

request, ask for favor or pity, beg, implore, earnestly desire, groan, demand mediate, wish, complain, whisper, discuss, interrogate, argue, hostile conversation [& others].

Your prayers need not be formal. They can & should reflect your heart.

In order to be effective, prayer should be organic & frequent. Just keep it honest & heartfelt.

You will be more comfortable praying for others if you regularly pray for yourself.

Pray with & for others. Especially those more fragile, more afraid, more susceptible.

Do you feel uncomfortable asking people if they would like to pray?
Here are 5 words you can memorize that will help.

                        “May I pray for you?”

A few will say no. Most will gladly accept your offer. It gives them an option and does not put pressure on them to pray. People need to feel that there is something in their control in the midst of this pandemic.

          Don’t know what to pray?

Memorized prayers are the easiest. But they are less personal and not often relevant to the person for whom you are about to pray.

It’s not likely that you will offer to pray for someone you don’t know something about. In compassionate conversation you will hear them explain the circumstances they are struggling with. I suspect your compassion is what led you to strike up a conversation with them. You will often be the initiator of the conversation. As the initiator, listen.

Here’s a word that will help you listen. Ting.

You might be wondering, what in the world is Ting? Maybe a graphic will better explain it.   

Ting is the Chinese symbol for the verb to listen. Verbs are action words. Listen actively with your undivided attention. Turn off your cell phone BEFORE you engage in listening.

By listening – even if only for a few moments – you will already know what to pray for the person.

  • What are they afraid of? Pray for them to be less afraid of that particular thing.
  • What are they struggling with? Pray for their strength to withstand & overcome in that struggle.
  • What are they in need of? Pray for God to meet their needs either via other people or miraculously.
  • Use the person’s name when praying.

Do not be afraid to address God in heaven!

You offered to pray, right? In this you introduced yourself as a person of faith. Don’t hesitate to publicly acknowledge that your faith is in the God of Heaven. All people need hope. When faced with a pandemic it seems that there is no hope on earth. Prayer supports mankind’s intrinsic belief that there is something more to existence than life on earth. There is Someone greater in control. Praying reminds both them & you.

 

In His Hands,

Pastor Fran

 

Fran Pultro, Ed.M., CPSP, ICISF

“Pastor Fran” has been the Staff Chaplain at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children since 2002. He is the Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel on the King’s Highway, a chaplain with the Philadelphia Police Department and an ICISF Approved Instructor.

 

Mitigating Child Stress During the Coronavirus Pandemic

“Isolation, physical distancing, the closure of schools and workplaces are challenges that affect us, and it is natural to feel stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness at this time” – Hans Kluge, director of the European branch of the WHO.

Hans Kluge is correct. The long-term restriction of people from interacting with others or from simply taking a walk negatively affects their mental health. Add to that the fear of contracting a new & potentially deadly virus, and you’ve got a formula for serious negative mental health issues.

Even though too young to process all of the information about the current coronavirus pandemic, the mental health of children can still be negatively affected. Although not usually as obvious, children are also feeling it. What can be done?

What can we do to help the kiddos?

 

“WALK” WITH THEM EVERY DAY

Let them know that you will walk through this with them for however long it lasts.

 

   

 

Maintain a routine 

Routines help both children and adults.  Although difficult in our ever-changing coronavirus circumstances, do your best. God gave those beautiful children to you, so you are “the man/woman” for the job!

“This means eating meals at regular times, sleeping, waking and exercising at set times, and maintaining social (socially distant) contact. Unstructured time can create boredom, spikes in anxiety or depression, which can lead to unhealthy patterns of coping.” – Dr. Deborah Serani, Psy.D.

Be creative when you choose routines for exercise. You know your family & children best.

 

Make Time to Play

 

Children need to play. It’s good for them physically, emotionally, spiritually & psychologically.

Choose games that are age appropriate as well as games that are fun for everyone who is in isolation with you. There are plenty of choices.

AVOID computer games!!! Too much screen time isn’t good for a child’s development.

Help Others 

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

“Do unto others” is the Golden Rule. There are many people in need at this time in history. If your children are old enough maybe you willl want to teach them how to sew buttons or another easy task. In this they will learn basic life skills. As a suggestion, you also might want to teach them how to use that life skill to sew buttons onto headbands or straps so nurses and other healthcare workers can attach their face masks. There are many needy people. Look around your community and observe what is needed and whether you & your family can meet any of those needs.

DISCLAIMER: Be careful!!! The age at which a child can safely use a needle depends on both the age & the maturity of the child. You know them best. They are yours.

 

 

Coronavirus-specific resources for children

I waited a bit to post these sites because early on in this pandemic these specific resourcs had not yet been developed.

https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/resources-help-explain-coronavirus-covid-19-children
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus

These resources include videos. Look at them before sharing them with your children. Use them liberally.  Use them to stimulate your own creativity. These are not the only resources available. You will find many by doing a Google search.

 

 

You & your beloved children are in my prayers.

In His Hands,

Pastor Fran

 

Fran Pultro, Ed.M., CPSP, ICISF

“Pastor Fran” has been the Staff Chaplain at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children since 2002. He is the Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel on the King’s Highway, a chaplain with the Philadelphia Police Department and an ICISF Approved Instructor.

Citations

Hans Kluge quote: https://euobserver.com/coronavirus/147903

Photo credits

Father holding child, iStock Photos

Unsplash: A father and son hold hands

Students Kids Clipart

Make Time to Play UK

 

Palm Sunday 2020

Palm Sunday as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 19:28-44 [ESV]

vv.28-31
And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.'”

vv.32-36
So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,”Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.

vv.37-40
As he was drawing near– already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying,”Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

vv.41-44
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying,”Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Fear & Coronavirus
Today, Palm Sunday 2020, we are self-quarantined as most of the world does it’s best to avoid contracting COVID-19 during the Coronavirus pandemic. There hasn’t been a world-wide disease this frightening since the Spanish Flu of 1918. The Spanish Flu pandemic lasted about 2 years. We still don’t know how long the Coronavirus pandemic will last. It has certainly focused most peoples’ attention on the important things of life.The start of Holy Week 2020 is covered with the shadow of fear for most people. They are worried that someone in their families – or even themselves – will contract COVID19 and die.

Most of us are familiar with the big events that would happen during that week leading up to Jesus’ arrest (in the Garden of Gethsamane), the Passion (His torture), Jesus’ Crucifixion & Resurrection.

But were you aware that these things were prophesied in the Old Testament?

I believe this is relevant to consider because of what we are experiencing in our lives today. Why? Because many people see what’s going on in the world around us and talking about the things prophesied in the Bible about the end of the time.

“Is what we are experiencing signs of the end of the world?”

This is a question on the lips of many. But today’s message is NOT about whether or not the events of today – the extremely high number & frequency of earthquakes, the pandemic, hordes of locusts, etc – indicate that we are facing the end of the world.

The goal of today’s message is to give you hope no matter how near the end of the world might be.

In the midst of this fear we have great hope! Jesus is still alive and His promise to those who choose to believe in Him are still in effect. And Jesus always keeps His promises!

 

The original Palm Sunday
I’d like to point out a few things in the account of that first Palm Sunday as recorded in Luke’s Gospel which you read at the beginning of this article.

In verses 37-40, the Pharisees – some of the hypocritical religious leaders in Jerusalem – told Jesus that He should rebuke His disciples. This was because Jesus’ disciples – all of them, not just the 12 Apostles – were singing that Jesus was the Messiah who was prophesied to come to Israel. The Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus’ answer is great! He said:
“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Don’t you wish that for just 30 seconds every single one of Jesus’ disciples had decided to be silent? It would have been awesome to see the Pharisees’ reactions on hearing the stones cry out the same thing that the disciples had been singing!

 

Bible Prophecies of Palm Sunday
Oh, you don’t believe that would have happened? Why not? Jesus is God and God cannot lie. I hope you believe that. I say this because it’s important for those of us who are Christians to believe the words spoken by God. He has said many things to mankind. He has made sure that we have a written record of the things He wants us to know of what He said.

Some of what He has recorded for us in the Bible are prophecies. Prophecy always seems to intrigue people. Some disregard it. Some accept it. Others – most people in western culture – just don’t know & want to see proof.

I encourage you to follow along in your Bibles. You will find the books listed in the table of contents. The first number refers to the chapter. The numbers after the colon refer to the verses.

For instance the book of Zechariah, chapter 9, verse 9 is written like this: Zechariah 9:9

There are several Bible prophecies about Palm Sunday. Today I will only share two of them. The first is from Zechariah. It speaks specifically about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, and the reason for His coming.

Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is called the Triumphal Entry.

Zechariah 9:9, is the most obviously stated prophecy about Palm Sunday.
This prophecy was given about 500 years before Jesus’ birth!
We know this from the historical events recorded in Zechariah.

Now I’d like to share with you one of the most amazing prophecies recorded in Scripture about Jesus entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Remember Daniel, who was thrown into a den of lions and survived?
He also wrote a prophecy about Palm Sunday.

Daniel 9:25
Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.

The entire prophecy is included in Daniel 9:24-27. It spans many years. This part of the prophecy – verse 25 – specifically has to do with the prophesied Messiah’s coming into Jerusalem.

The prophecy refers to a “command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”
At that time, Jerusalem, had been destroyed. The Jewish people had been taken captive by the Babylonians. Daniel was in Babylon when he received this prophecy from the angel, Gabriel.

The command referred to is very specific. For this prophecy to be accurate the command must concern the city of Jerusalem specifically.

Next the prophecy refers to “Messiah the Prince.”
The phrase “Messiah the Prince” is a translation of the Hebrew words, Meshiach Nagid. So this prince is also a king.

Lastly for our study today, the word “weeks” in this passage is the Hebrew word shabuwa which means “week of years.”

1 shabuwa = 7  years, just like 1 decade = 10 years. Same concept.

With this knowledge we see that this part of Daniel’s prophecy refers to a period of 69 weeks of years.

7 (years) x 69 (weeks of years) = 483 years.

In Daniel’s time a year consisted of 360 days, not 365 1/4 days like our year.
We use a solar calendar. Daniel was in Babylon. They used a lunar calendar.
Using this knowledge we calculate by multiplying 360 days x 483 years.
The answer is 173,880 days. Keep this number in your mind for later.

Back to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday!

Jesus presents Himself as Messiah

During Jesus’ ministry there were several occasions written in the Gospel of John, where we are told that Jesus’ “hour had not yet come.”      [John 2:4; John 7: 6, 8; John 8:20]

Then, one day – Palm Sunday – He deliberately arranged things so that He would enter Jerusalem just as the prophecy of Zechariah foretold the Messiah would come.

In case you might be thinking that Jesus did NOT present Himself as king, re-read the words of the people who were cheering when Jesus arrived on the donkey; re-read the words of the hypocritical Pharisees. They felt that the people were blaspheming in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah the King. But Jesus endorsed it!

But if Jesus is the Messiah – which He is – and if Daniel’s prophecy is accurate – which it is – then Jesus must have entered Jerusalem as the Messiah exactly 173,880 days from the date that a commandment was given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.

The question is, did this happen?

 

The Command 

There were several commands given in history which permitted the Jews to rebuild their Temple. The Temple had been in Jerusalem, so we must be careful to determine which command is referred to here in Daniel 9:25. The command that concerns this prophecy must specifically order the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem.

The commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was given by the historical figure, Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 B.C. The emphasis in the verse on “the street” and “the wall” at then end of Daniel 9:25, was to avoid confusion with other earlier mandates confined to rebuilding the Temple.

Remember the date March 14, 445 B.C.

The Scotland Yard / Christian Police Connection
Sir Robert Anderson, was the second Assistant Crime Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1888 to 1901. This was Scotland Yard. He was also an intelligence officer, theologian and writer. Anderson was a devout Christian.

The Criminal Investigation Department was then just starting the investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders. Anderson thought these crimes were grossly over-sensationalized. The press hasn’t changed!

Anderson put his police detective skills to use in researching this very prophecy we are reading today. It was his investigative nature that led to the math we looked at above. You can get a copy of the book he wrote about it called The Coming Prince.

By considering the number of days per year used in the Babylonian Calendar, then adding 173,880 days to the date of March 14, 445 B.C., and accounting for leap years, Anderson’s calculations bring us to April 6, 32 A.D.

Is that date significant? Yes. It’s the day of the original Palm Sunday.
Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled to the exact day!

 

                                     Hope

In this we see that we can trust God’s word on events before they come to pass. Therefore we can trust God’s word on things that have already transpired.

God’s word tells us that 7 days after Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus then rose from the dead. Next Sunday we will celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

That is where our hope lies – that Jesus truly rose from the dead.

Whether the things going on around us in the world today are indicators that the end of the world is nearing or not (I believe it is), isn’t as important as where we will go once our last day on this earth arrives.

God’s word is clear about how to be sure that your soul gets to heaven.

Romans 10:9 “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

If you aren’t sure exactly what that means please contact me at:
cckhwy@gmail.com

In His Hands,
Pastor Fran Pultro

“…the least of these…”

Pediatric Stress and the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Pastor Fran Pultro, Ed.M.

“…the least of these…” – Matthew 25:40

This phrase refers to those considered  least in size, least in importance, least in the estimation of men. My focus today is on children.

The media – social, mainstream & fringe – are flooded with information about coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

Some of the information is accurate. Some is inaccurate as this virus is new and still being studied. Some is simply false or fabricated. The overwhelming amount of information about this virus makes it extremely difficult for even adults to sort through and navigate.

The seemingly contradictory nature of some COVID-19 information given by trusted authorities causes fear & confusion.

That the entire body of this information is available to children is something about which we adults should be concerned.

Do you remember how children were traumatized by the repeated rebroadcast by news media of airplanes flying into the WTC in the wake of 9/11?

Our beloved kiddos weren’t considered in the race for ratings.
I see the same thing happening today with the news about coronavirus.

Please don’t misunderstand. The advent of world-wide, real-time mass communication is a great tool in helping spread news that can teach people how to better behave in order to effectively keep the spread of coronavirus lower than if we didn’t know about it at all.

But that same world-wide, real-time mass communication is something with which the children of this generation are very familiar. They have access to it – and likely know better how to use it – than those of us in my (Boomer) generation.

Therein lies the problem.

The information we are receiving on a 24/7 basis is not contained to the media. We speak about it at home, in school and in our social circles – limited though they might be as a result of safe social distancing.

Children are also talking about this.

Children are smart. But they are still children. They see the world very differently than adults. Keep this in mind when determining how to handle this pandemic with your family, especially with your children.

The way you speak about and behave in the face of this pandemic plays a big part in helping keep the anxiety of your children at a safe level. Their emotional stability is crucial in this stressful circumstance.

Children need age-appropriate information, not the “whole ball of wax.”
They also need the information to be factual.

I know from conversations with my young patients that they are hearing rumors, opinions and “what -ifs” from other children, parents, family members and the media all of which are raising their levels of anxiety. And they are worried.

It’s important that we dispel rumors and false information. But know this – some information that is false in the minds of children is based in fact.

Who is an “elderly” person? They are an at-risk group for serious complications if they contract COVID-19. The age group being mentioned by reliable medical sources is usually “65 and over.”

But who is an “elderly person” to a child? Their parents? Their grandparents?

Many parents are in their 20’s. Many grandparents are in their 40’s.

Children worry that the adults in their lives are in danger of dying.

Children need this clarified. They need to know that elderly people are at greater risk. But this doesn’t mean those elderly people will necessarily die. If the elderly people in their lives are 65 & over let them know that proper precautions are being taken to protect those elderly people.

Just be careful to provide information that is age-appropriate; information that children of their age group are able to assimilate and comprehend so their still developing psyches are not emotionally over-loaded. This can elevate anxiety and cause emotional distress.

But don’t keep from discussing COVID-19 with children. If they perceive that coronavirus is an off-limits topic it can raise their anxiety levels when they hear your whispered discussions about it.

If your children are now home as the result of school closures I recommend that you limit their access to TV news & internet media. This includes limiting their use of smart phones. If you cannot control the type and/or amount of information they receive you aren’t protecting them to the best of your abilities.

At certain ages children do not have the maturity to distinguish between news reporting and commentary. Their young and imaginative minds are able to conjure up ideas based on misinformation that are far more disastrous than the reality.

You are the expert on your children!

Are your children extroverts or introverts? Do they tend to externalize their emotions in play, sports, music or other active ways? Do they tend to internalize their feelings? You know best.

Watch them closely for changes in their behaviors or moods. Just the extra attention you pay to them will help ease their concerns as they are  reassured of your love for them.

And what about you?  How are you handling the oceans of COVID-19 news?

Are you appropriately concerned and taking prudent measures to provide safety for your family? Are you panic-stricken and frozen not knowing what to do?

Just as the airlines tell us to put the oxygen masks on ourselves before tending to our children in the seats beside us – something counter-intuitive to our internal parental protective instincts – it’s important that you learn factual information about COVID-19, so you can effectively care for your family, including your children.

Your children are watching how you handle this crisis. It is a crisis. Reassure them by your behavior and in your choice of words. “Do as I say and not as I do” is always a poor way to teach children. “Practice what you preach” is always better.

If you are overwhelmed, reach out to someone in your sphere of friends for reassurance and counsel. Discussing things with other trusted adult friends is of great value in helping lower your own stress/anxiety levels.

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14

Children – “the least of these” about whom I write today – rely on you completely. As parents we are in that frighteningly responsible position. Let’s handle it like adults and with an others-centered loving approach to all we say and do.

If the schools are closed your creativity will be greatly challenged and exercised during this time with your children. Many out-of-the-house activities and gathering places are closed; sporting events, recreation centers, movie theaters, malls, et al. The list is ever-growing.

Your time is not your own. But it can be blessed with your beloved children present!

Teach them the basics of proper hygiene for the umpteenth time.

Especially young kids who tend to touch and lick things they ought not!

As guidelines and recommendations from the CDC are released, build on the basics your children already know. It’s a learning experience for all of us. You are now their teacher. Learn the curriculum.

Make a game of teaching safe social distancing. Create a safe way of greeting others that is peculiar to your family. Be imaginative. Ask your children to help develop that greeting. They are creative little beings!

Overall, remember that the COVID-19 pandemic will one day end. Yes, it might flare up again. Yes, someone you know might die as a result of COVID-19.

But we are not without hope.

As a pastor and chaplain, whose calling is to remind people that there is more to life than the physical world, I am duty-bound to point out the spiritual.

I am a Christian. As a Christian, I believe in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of my heart-felt belief in Christ, I take great comfort in the promises of God as found in the Bible.

Yet this essay is not meant to evangelize.

COVID-19 is affecting people all over the world regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

The information I share with you today is not mine alone. It can be found in many places in the internet.

I share that I am a Christian simply to point you to look to something – or Someone – other than the resources of this world in order to find the peace of heart and mind that you desire in the midst of this or any crisis.

Peace

Pastor Fran

Fran Pultro, Ed.M., CPSP, ICISF

“Pastor Fran” has been the Staff Chaplain at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, since 2002. He is the Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel on the King’s Highway, a chaplain with the Philadelphia Police Department and an ICISF Approved Instructor.

Photo Credit: Ashawire

Last Days Living

Are we living near the end of the last days spoken of in the Bible?

It sure seems so. With the advent of advanced communications technology, world events are readable/seeable in real-time on our telephones. Wow!

For students of God’s Word it seems clear that the world stage is being set for the fulfillment of some very large biblical prophecies concerning middle eastern nations.

These things – along with the glut of information available to us on almost any topic 24/7 – are overwhelming. “News-junkies” can’t hide from the “substance” to which they are addicted.

As disciples of Christ, what can we do? I don’t mean about any particular subject. I mean what can we do with regards to living for Christ in the maelstrom of world events that sometimes make us feel that we are drowning in a sea of news?

Or as has been better stated: “How shall we then live?”

The Apostle Peter, wrote this for us: 2Peter 3:1-18

I’d copy the verses here, but I believe it’s better that you look them up & read them for yourself. Here I will only post some of the highlights.

Knowing that the earth will one day be judged by God, it’s clear what type of people we ought to be in our manner of living.

  • Holy in conduct.
  • Earnestly looking for the coming of the day of God. Waiting in excited anticipation for His return.
  • Being diligent to live in such a way that when He comes, we are at peace with Him.
  • Without spot or blemish.
  • Blameless. Not perfect, but repentant & forgiven.
  • Always keeping in mind that our salvation is a result of Jesus’ suffering, as Paul wrote.
  • Being aware of these things ahead of time, be on your guard against being led away with the same error of the wicked & falling from being steadfastly faithful in        your commitment to live for the Lord.
  • To that end, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

According to the Bible, the “last days” have been since at least the time when the book of Hebrews was written in the 1st century AD. See Hebrews 1:1-2

Even though we don’t know when the “last days” will end, we do know that we are about 2,000 years closer to that unknowable end.

With that in mind, and knowing that Peter exhorted the Christians of the 1st century to live as if the Lord would return in their lifetimes, should we not live in that same manner?

In His Hands,

Pastor Fran

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