Monthly Archives: April 2013

A New, Healthy Beginning!

It is definitely time that I made me a priority in my life.   I need to get healthy in so many areas.   The huge amount of stress that I create in my life is just the tip of the mountain.   Time to move this mountain!!

living peacefully

“Why do we accept stress as normal and ignore its consequences?”    Tracie Miles asks this question near the beginning of Chapter 3 of Stressed-Less Living.    Good question.    She goes on to say that if we were diagnosed with cancer or something, we would immediately seek treatment.   “Likewise, if you know you are stressed to an unhealthy level yet refuse to discover the real problems and implement necessary changes to help eliminate or reduce your stress, then you are, in essence, refusing treatment and jeopardizing your life.” (pg.62)

I love the way that she does not beat around the bush in making a point!    Yes, I know that my stress level is at an unhealthy high level.  Symptoms – high blood pressure, stress headaches/migraines, moody, emotional — to name a few.

So what am I doing about it?   If you had asked me a year ago, I would have to say nothing.  But over the last year I have very slowly started to address the issue.   More so in the last three weeks, but I’ve started a new kind of health kick!

I would think that the highest stress point was about 18 months or so ago.   Since then it has decreased, but still is not at a healthy level.  The easy stressors to reduce were the ones that I was able to give to someone else.  However, that does not make me feel great knowing that I have just given my problem to someone else.   So replaced one stressor with another!

By talking about what is ‘stressing’ me out and admitting to my responsibility in creating this mess, I have been able to minimize a lot of stress in my life.    Also by making commitments to my husband and son that I am working on learning to manage my stress better is holding me accountable to take action.

I am reminded of Philippians 4:7 “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than  the human mind can understand.   His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

I want God’s peace all the time, not just moments here and there.   So as I read chapter three ‘ The Silent Killer’ it really puts things into perspective.   I need to do something and I need to do it NOW!   By not acting until recently, I have put my physical, emotional, spiritual health at risk and also my relationships.

My first step to becoming a healthy, and stressed-less woman involves me spending time daily in God’s Word.   Not just doing a quick devotion in the morning, but really taking time to soak up his word each and every day  — morning, noon and night.   The peace that comes from this simple exercise is amazing!   I knew this was something that I needed to do, but never had that time or energy to put it into practice.  “Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT).    Having an on-going conversation with God throughout the day really helps.   I still whine to him — I’m working on that.    There are still things that frustrate me — he’s working on that!

The second thing that I have done to help make me healthy is to eliminate anything that is not important.   For example, time that was wasted on facebook playing games — GONE.   Worrying about things that I have no control over — GOING!   While I am still on the computer a lot, it is spend in studying God’s word and messages through blogs and other postings from the Online Bible Study group.

The next thing that I am tackling now is healthy eating and exercise.    I am trying to walk more.   Simple thing of walking my son to school and then continue on to work takes some time each day, but it is only about 20 mins…so not a big commitment.     Healthy eating is taking a lot more time.  My husband needs to get a handle on his diabetes, so the learning curve is a little high.   What exactly is a healthy choice?    So I am reading a lot, but in the process of helping him, I am helping me too!

That’s all I have tackled so far!

When I think of trying to get healthy, I have always done it for me.    This time I am doing it for God.   When I stop and think of all that he has done for me and I do not have the strength or wisdom or desire to take care of my health …. I am ashamed.    I have wasted so much time, but God has forgiven me.  Now moving forward, things will be different.    I know that I will stumble and maybe fall, but I am assured of his presence with me all the time.

“I know the Lord is always with me.  I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”  (Psalm 16:8 NLT)

Tracie talks about God being the ‘Great Physician’ and he is.   The need to cry out to him first when I am feeling stress building up is key to managing stress.   God MUST be my first responder!   Tracie made what I feel is a key statement on page 65, “I had sought out a cure from the Great Physician, and he had provided it.  Not a cure for the problem but a cure for my heart as I dealt with the problem in his strength and under the refuge of his love.”  

God will answer my cries for help, but he is not going to eliminate my stress.   Not really what I wanted to hear, but it time to be bluntly honest.   Thank you, Tracie for that!    I need to know that no matter how many changes that I make, I will still have stress.   BUT, God is there to help me manage and dealt with it.

“As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life.  He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!”  2 Peter 1:3 NLT

As I continue to know God better, this will reflect in my life and the choices I make.   I need to make healthy choices in every area of my life in order to be truly healthy child of God.

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Falling on my knees

I was challenged by the last study question at the end of chapter two, “Is it possible that your stress has created a barrier between you and God?”

That is a difficult question to answer honestly. I want so much to say that there is nothing between God and me. But last week I admitted that I was the problem, that I was the reason I was stressed. I was trying to control everything — things within my control and things outside of my control. I was not trusting God completely to handle everything and needed to be rescued from the troubles I have made in my life.

So, yes, stress has come between God and me. But a barrier? That seems like such a big, permanent blockage. I am thinking of the new concrete barriers that were just installed at my son’s school to keep cars from going into the bus area. They are huge and very solid.

I decided to Google for some pictures of barriers. Found one picture that had construction like barriers with a sign ‘can you break through?’ Interesting question when I look at my stressors and what I need to turn over to God. Can I get through this barrier so that nothing is between me and God? YES (I think). I know it is possible, but am not over confident that I can work through this, especially after a rough day.

barriersBut then I saw a picture that really caught my attention. There was a barrier with three lines – one going over, one going under and one going through it. I like to visualize things so this picture was great for me at this time. Did I want to just find a way around the barrier by going over or under it? Or did I want to break through the barrier? It came down to a question of the easy or hard route. I never do things the easy way, so here I go breaking through barriers.

This week’s has been challenging on several levels. The study itself presented challenges in naming my stressors. The personal stress self assessment exercise was tough. It was tough to admit what I was letting come between me and God. It was difficult to acknowledge what I was allowing to affect my relationships with others and affect my health. I was allowing all this to happen. Writing it down on paper what stressed me out, how it made me feel, what it is affecting in my life and whether I had control to change it was a very soul searching exercise that left me feeling very vulnerable.

The problem was the very next day was an extremely stressful day where I had to deal with two of the stressors on my list. I already felt exposed and weak when I started the day. So, by the end of the day, I was completely done. I had no choice but to fall on my knees and cry out to God.

“Lord, help!” I cried in my trouble and he saved me from my distress”
Psalm 107:19 NLT personalize

Yes, I cried out to God. But why do I continually wait until I am at the end of my rope before crying out?? I thought I was doing so well at handling stress. But I realized that I just had a very low stress since beginning this study and this was the first opportunity to put into practice what I was learning. I did acknowledge when I got to my breaking point and did go off on my own to spend time in prayer and did not react as I normally would. But why wait until my breaking point? Why can’t I give things over to God before I am completely spent? I really felt disappointed in myself. Another stressor is identified! I have very high expectations and often unrealistic ones for myself.

I know I am growing and changing and that change does not happen over night and I have to allow God to process the changes in me. But can he work a little faster. I was reminded of the story of the potter and the clay. God is modeling me. As he finds a flaw he has to reshape me and begin again. It takes time – I have to be patience.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue
his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”
Philippians 1:6 NLT

Identifying my stressors has made it necessary to be fall on my knees almost constantly. This week God’s voice has been very loud and clear to me. Now it is up to me to let him lead and do what needs to be done.

I came across the song by Jaci Velasquez tonight entitled ‘On my Knees’ and really like the chorus:

I get on my knees!
There I am before the Love
That changes me
See I don’t know how
But there’s power
When I’m on my knees

In order to be change my life to be less stressed, I need to fall on my knees and go before the only one who can change me.

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The Real Problem

My name is Stephanie and I am the real problem!    The first chapter of Stressed-Less Living definitely made it clear that I am the cause of my stress.    I have to own the fact that no one or nothing else is to blame but me.

While the whole chapter applied to my life as if Tracie was reading my mind and heart as she wrote it, it was the section on ‘From Expert to Experience’ that really hit the hardest.

“When true faith and trust in my Savior became a reality in my heart, living less stress became a reality it my life.”  (pg. 31).

I read this line over a couple of times to let it sink in.   ‘True faith’   Wasn’t my faith true?  Did I not trust God?

Hebrews 11 provides us with this definition.  “What is faith?  It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.  It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.” (v.1 –NLT)

Do I have the confident assurance that everything I hope for is going to happen?   I continue to read Hebrews chapter 11 where it lists great examples of what happens when people have had true faith.   God had done amazing things in their lives and the lives of those around them.     In looking deep within, I am confident that my faith is true.  I firmly believe all the promises and assurances of God.

But, what about trust?   It was a real soul searching time to ask myself whether I fully trusted God with every area of my life or was I still trying to control the outcomes?

“I realized that most of my stress was rooted in trying to control circumstances that I had no control over.” (p.31).

WOW!   Never thought of it like that before.   I can be a little bit of a control freak in most areas of my life (okay….a major control freak!!).

About 18 months ago, I thought I was at the point where I could not cope with much.  I was emotional and stressed to the max.   I remember one day leaving work in the middle of the day and just driving to a parking lot and crying.    I had never felt so much on the edge before as I did at that moment.    It was then that I knew that something had to change.    It was a few days later that I sent an email to a colleague asking for help.   This was a huge step for me.    After a couple of emails and a conversation with another colleague, I was told, ‘you’re a young mom, with a busy ministry appointment, you just need to start delegating some work.’       Not really helpful, but I was willing to try anything.    It was a long process, but finally about six months or so ago, I was able to delegate much to another manager.

However, that did not really help.   I was still stressed.   I started trying to find ways to adjust my life in order to cope with these feelings, but nothing was working.  When I got to this point is when I received an email invitation to join this OBS.   God knew exactly what I needed.

As I read this first chapter I took ownership of my stress.   It was definitely self-induced.  I also had to admit that I was not fully trusting God with everything.

Now that I know what needs to change I am putting my full trust in God to complete the work he has started.

 Psalm 25:1-5(NLT)

O Lord, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you

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