Managing Stress

It’s not 9am yet & I think I’ve already endured a week’s worth of stress. Ok, that’s an overreaction, but my daughter just drove me home & she’s just beginning to learn how to drive.  We also just dropped off my son for his first day of high school, so I’m sitting at home endeavoring to calm my frayed nerves. Normally, I’m a relatively relaxed person but I can get pretty jittery when it comes to stuff with my kids. 

Seems to me that we have have areas in our lives that make us jittery & it’s not possible to always avoid these stressors. Sometimes we have to go through stress & get better at managing it rather than stress managing us. 

So here are some pointers that could be helpful to you or someone you know who’s in a stressful season:

  • it can help to take a pause, close your eyes & catch your breath
  • consider if you’re stressed about an event or if there’s a deeper issue that is happening in your emotions / thoughts 
  • stress is usually limited in time or to a situation – it can pass or get smaller when we think about the big picture
  • pray & ask the Holy Spirit to help you have peace that is bigger / stronger than any stress

Sometimes stress can help us lean into God more & rely on ourselves less. In this context, God can get some excellent mileage out of stress & we can have a more intimate relationship with God. That seems to be one of the things that God does so very well in our lives – turning to broken into beautiful & stress into cozy communion with the Holy Spirit!

Rest for a Weary Soul

I was talking with a friend today & we were discussing the various responsibilities that we have, along with navigating these while avoiding any catastrophes. We had a very nice bonding moment in the conversation, sharing with vulnerability some of our individual struggles. It was a very refreshing chat & it reminded me of something I read from Jesus’ words this morning:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary & heavy laden & I will give you rest . . . For I am gentle & humble in heart & you will find rest for your soul”. Matt 11:28-29

We all have stresses, pressures & responsibilities. We want to do well in these things, so sometimes we can get overwhelmed. Let’s remember to continually come to Jesus to give our soul the rest it needs. 

Here are a few more helpful verses:

  • Surely I’ve composed my soul within me, like a weaned child against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me – Ps 133:2
  • Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me – John 14:1

Let your soul rest in the loving & totally able presence of the Holy Spirit

Birds, Flowers & the Future

Do you ever worry about stuff? Some people say they never worry & I’m happy for them. Other people, like me, we can sometimes get worried about various things. Seems like some common stuff that gets worried about includes finances, job / education things, relationships & health issues. Of course there are more things, but my point in bringing up the worry stuff is related to Jesus’ teaching about worry in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says that the birds have food provided for them & the flowers are beautifully appointed in their various displays. Furthermore, each day has enough challenges to keep us attentive to the present rather than borrowing worry for the future.  

Jesus tells us to look around & see how well our Heavenly Father manages the world in which we live. We can certainly trust our loving Heavenly Father to take very good care of us, as His children. Nestle into the Holy Spirit when you get tempted to worry 🙂

Gethsemane Before Easter

  
Take a moment to think of a dark time you have experienced. Maybe you went through a challenging time in your health or with a loved one. Maybe you went through a painful divorce or financial situation that seemed hopeless. All of us have had our share of dark times & we don’t like them. 
I totally appreciate that Jesus had dark experiences as well – the devil tempting Jesus during His 40day fast comes to mind. In this Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday, today is Maundy Thursday, the day of Jesus’ Last Supper & the evening when He went to Gethsemane. 

If you’re presently in a dark time, or you know someone who is struggling in a difficult situation, take heart! Here are some thoughts that’s could help:

  • Jesus went through dark seasons & is acquainted with our struggles – Jesus keeps company with us in the darkness
  • To every season there is a limit – this has come to pass & not stay
  • Intimacy often grows deeper in situations of duress & struggle, so maybe this is why Jesus wanted Peter, James & John to keep company with Him in Gethsemane – don’t be repelled by someone’s dark season (Matt 26:36-38)
  • Remember that Jesus is the Light of the world & brings illumination wherever He is invited!

Easter is coming – that means there’s resurrection around the corner! And Heavenly Help gives us strength & wisdom to keep going!

Heating Up or Chilling Out??

  
   Since we talked yesterday about Jesus putting out fires in our lives, it seems fitting today that we would talk about staying chilled & frosty. Various times of the year seem to have lots of stress & pressure – December frequently far exceeding my red zone capacity. So seeing Jesus chillin’ in a freezer by a gallon of ice cream helps me to remember to offload some steam & it reminds me to make choices about stress & worry. 

Some helpful things to remember that Jesus said:

“Come to Me all you who are heavy laden & I will give you rest”

“My peace I leave you, not as the world gives”

“In this world you will have tribulations but I have overcome the world”

Heating Up or Chilling Out??

  
   Since we talked yesterday about Jesus putting out fires in our lives, it seems fitting today that we would talk about staying chilled & frosty. Various times of the year seem to have lots of stress & pressure – December frequently far exceeding my red zone capacity. So seeing Jesus chillin’ in a freezer by a gallon of ice cream helps me to remember to offload some steam & it reminds me to make choices about stress & worry. 

Some helpful things to remember that Jesus said:

“Come to Me all you who are heavy laden & I will give you rest”

“My peace I leave you, not as the world gives”

“In this world you will have tribulations but I have overcome the world”

More trust, less worry

  

Easier said than done, to be sure!! But nonetheless, the decision to trust God more & worry less is both healthy & essential. All of us have uncertainties, impossibilities & varying degrees of stresses. What we do with this stuff is the important decision. It’s easy to let stress get under the skin & seep into the bloodstream, elevating our blood pressure & distorting our perceptions. When this happens, our decision making ability gets shady & we can make poor choices. 
But let’s do that “taking captive” thing that Paul talks about in 2Cor 10:5. Let’s not allow worry to have a free run & unlimited access in our minds. When we start to worry & have troublesome thoughts, let’s pray first & ask the Holy Spirit to help us take those thoughts captive & not let them under our skin nor into our bloodstream! Dear friends, let’s worry less & trust God more 🙂

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Hot Topic: Stress – the Good & Bad

If you live in America, the deadline for filing our taxes is next week.  Maybe that’s kind of stressful for you.  If you’re a pastor or highly committed church volunteer, you probably just survived a stressful season called Easter.  Some of the upcoming events and holidays might have some stress potential for you – Mother’s Day & Graduation / Commencement.  Despite our best efforts, I don’t think that any of us can immunize ourselves from stress.  But how we deal with stress is a different issue & there’s some potential for good outcomes with stress.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • relax & take a deep breath:  I’m learning from my physical therapy from shoulder surgery that getting tense & uptight doesn’t help my muscles.  When I relax & trust the therapist (aka Helper), we make better progress
  • let stress put some fuel and motivation in your efforts:  Sometimes I need deadlines and pressure to help me be more productive – smile 🙂
  • the lifestyle question:  stress as a lifestyle is entirely unhealthy and can cause us to make poor decisions in our health, relationships, priorities and time management;  consider that you might be addicted to stress and maybe it’s time to actively choose peace over stress  #selah

drinking from a fire hydrant

Have you ever had seasons in your life where you feel very overwhelmed?  Sometimes we go through times where it seems like everything is broken & sometimes we go through seasons that just have lots of demands.  Last week, I had one of those weeks – it was the kids last week of school, I had a couple of sermons to prepare, some work deadlines and a few other spinning plates.  I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant on full open :/

gushing-hydrant-2

Thankfully, this week has a little more breathing room.  Regardless of the demands & pressures on our lives, it always helps me to remember that God is in charge & that I don’t have to be an “expert” on water pressure, time management, resource allocation, solution provision, energy distribution, etc.  While I may have a few talents & skills, God is an expert at everything – most of all, God is an expert at loving us & helping us in our daily living, with or without fire hydrants ,)

don’t curse time

 

I often find myself in the predicament of needing more time & less work.  Deadlines, responsibilities, demands, schedules, timelines and the like seem to eat into the 24 hours in each day with nibbles, bites and giant chomps.  I used to think that God messed up with the 24 hour thing until I read in Genesis 1:31 about how God said that everything He made (including time) was very good.  So here are some helpful thoughts about time being very good:

time-warp

 

 

 

 

  • time is our daily reminder that while we are limited & finite, God is not & God knows the beginning from the end
  • time helps us to get things done – sometimes pressure is good
  • there are many people in the Bible who only grew into their destiny because time was an essential ingredient:  Joseph, Moses, David, Jacob, Hannah & lots more 🙂
  • time is an integral part of what God established with the whole Sabbath rest principle
  • intimacy requires time 🙂
  • time is an important expression of genuine love 🙂

frying pan

Out of the frying pan and into the fire:  I was reading about how David was trying to stay away from King Saul in 1 Samuel because Saul was trying to kill David.  It’s really interesting to me that God sent David a prophet in 1 Sam 22 & told David to leave the stronghold where he was staying & go back to Judah, where he was more vulnerable to Saul’s attempts to kill him – out of the frying pan and into the fire.

No one likes to be uncomfortable or in difficult situations.  If you’re like me, we often look for the paths of least resistance & opposition, along with the areas of greatest safety and comfort.  But clearly, this wasn’t how God was directing David in 1 Sam 22.  It seems to me that we often trust God the least when we are the most comfortable ,)

an important lesson from tire pressure :)

I’m trying to be more proactive about taking care of my car so that Reece has fewer things to think about and so I’m learning lots of wonderful new things, which of course I enjoy for the simple pleasure of the love of learning 🙂

With that being said, I drive my car almost everyday & I don’t give much thought to the pressure in my tires until something goes wrong.  Of course it’s best to maintain consistent and optimum pressure because my car is easier to steer and drives better when the tire pressure is in the right zone.

I think the same can be true for us with Jesus:  pressure is part of life and when we keep our eyes on Jesus, He keeps the pressures of our life in balance so that we can live in optimum performance, but the key for me is focus.  Keeping my eyes on the pressures in my life can be overwhelming, but keeping my eyes on Jesus helps me to stay in synch with Jesus so He can make pressure adjustments as He sees fit 🙂

Stress can be good

Ok, before you get stressed out with me about the title of this blog, here’s something good that I’m observing that can come from stress. Probably like you, I have varying degrees of stress in my life – from the quickie stress that comes from being late bc of traffic to the massive stress that can come from job & family pressures (or various other things). What I’m noticing is that the greater the intensity of the stress the more I find myself pressing into God & ultimately, it is never a bad thing to press into God nor to depend on God, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.
So what we do with stress can often be more important than the actual stress 🙂

how to constructively deal with pressure

It seems to me that the holiday season increases the pressures on my life, based on many add’l activities & responsibilities (Christmas programs, special meals, house projects, present wrapping, etc).  Maybe your life has some similar dynamics & demands.  Should you find yourself in seasons that have alot of pressure, here are some ideas that have helped me:

  • simplify & prioritize:  things that aren’t as important need to drop much lower on the “must do” list
  • keep core / central relationships healthy:  make the extra effort to communicate clearly, or the stress from these relationships can be very draining
  • remember that you are deeply loved by Jesus: you are always on His mind, in His thoughts & you always capture His eye
  •  minimize the noise & clutter – if something isn’t necessary & soothing consider reducing or eliminating it
  • give yourself permission to get a coffee / tea & exhale or take a deep breath
  • take some moments each day to celebrate Jesus in your life – more ideas to follow on this point

Feel free to add some more thoughts on how to constructively deal with pressure 🙂

High Octane

My husband thinks I’m intense. He’s probably right. It seems that whatever I give myself to, I can be extreme. For example, when I was learning to snowboard, I fell so hard one time that I got a concussion through my helmet, but I didn’t give up trying to learn. Now 4 yrs later, I snowboard & generally stay injury-free & THOROUGHLY enjoy it!
My point here is that it’s not all bad to be intense, especially when it comes to our walk w God. We are encouraged to live a balanced life & in some cases & situations, that’s totally appropriate. But when it comes to God, I’ve come to the conclusion that I intensely need Him. This intense need is the most obvious need in my life – everyone who knows me in any way, knows I need God. I’m a junkie – the honest truth. Because I need Him so desperately, I am quite intense about being w Him, knowing Him, loving Him & having Him be comfortable in my life (I want God to be comfortable around me). I want & need for my relationship w God to be nothing less than high octane, fully leaded & totally charged. May your walk w God be one of great intensity & immensity.

pressure management

You probably don’t need me to list anything that may add to the pressure in your life, so here’s something good to think about:  God has your future in His hands and you can trust Him.  For me, this was really helpful  to hear this morning in my time w Him.  From time to time, when I feel lots of pressure, sometimes I find my mind wanting to escape from the pressure.  In prayer this morning, I was kind of daydreaming when I felt God inviting me to settle into Him rather than go down the daydreaming path.  This was an interesting experience because when I was daydreaming, I was really restless.  When I followed God, the restlessness stopped & I felt a calm serenity with great depth.  In my prayer time, I stayed w God & received an internal confidence that is even lingering w me now. 

We all have pressures & stresses – from our own choices & from things beyond our control.  I’d encourage you to be mindful of how you deal with such pressures & stresses.  God designs our needs to be met in Him.