Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mind Control: Comparisons

Comparing ourselves to others is dangerous on several levels.

To compare ourselves to others in a way that leaves us feeling inadequate is not fair to us, as we are using a standard that is less than perfect.

To compare ourselves to others in a way that leaves us feeling superior, is not fair as it also uses a standard that is less than perfect :)

Comparisons are natural, as we are constantly measuring ourselves up to those around us to determine if we are being accepted, fitting in, are "good enough" according to the variable standard of those around us. We desire to measure ourselves, and be found at least as good as everyone else.

Often, as women when we look and compare, we walk away feeling less than adequate. We chose to look at the women who have cleaner homes, better behaved children, more money, a better-looking husband, or a thinner body. We use this comparison tendency to cut ourselves down, and increase our expectations of ourselves to unrealistic levels. We use our mental, emotional, physical resources to seek, or at least desire to be like someone other than us.

God does not desire this for us, though. He doesnt even desire us to compare ourselves TO ourselves..that isnt a good enough ruler either. He asks us to only compare ourselves to His ruler, which is not based on the "natural" desires of our heart which are so variable and wish-washy...."We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" 2 Corinthians 10:12

We cant even trust ourselves to act as measure, we arent worthy of such a task...

"For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." 2 Corinthians 10:18

Comparing ourselves to others, for whatever reason is not a good use of the mental resources that God intends to use for teaching us things of Him.

Remember, when you struggle with these or any other oppressive thoughts that cause you question your worth ..."We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mind Control: Perfectionism

I dont know you, necessarily ..but I would guess that I would right to say that, like me..you may struggle with perfectionism at times.

Now, am not a perfectionist. Everything I do doesnt have to be perfect ..I am okay if my house is less than stellar all the time, I dont mind a wrinkle or a stain on the kids clothes, my projects dont have to be without mistakes. I am not a perfectionist.

I do, however, struggle with perfectionism.

That is, if I dont like it when I cant do something all the way, or to the degree that things are just the way that I want to do them, I dont want to do it :) Or, I mentally determine that something isnt worth doing if I have already failed to be able to do that thing, perfectly.

For example, I often talk myself out of drinking the water I need to today, because the day is half over and I havent even started on my 8 glasses. Or, if I dont have time to fold and put away the laundry right now, then I will put it off until I do. Or, if I cant start, work on, and finish cleaning out the closet all today ..then why start?

I know I am not alone in this one :)

I am learning, a little at a time, that my need to complete those things all at once and to the standard that I really want ..may be unrealistic considering my resources at the moment. It may be unrealistic for me to think that any time in the next three years will I have the time it takes to start, work on and finish the garage. But, I may have an hour today, and a couple of other days this week.

I may not have the time to fold and put away the laundry right now, but how bout just folding ..that is one part down, then only one to go next time I have a free minute. I may have not had a sip of water all day, but I can still get 3 in before I head to bed and that is better than none all day.

When I started really paying attention to how I often I let this thought process keep me from doing what needs doing, I realized I do it alot!

There is another one I use alot ...I am already 5 months behind in reading my bible every day this year, so why start now? I have missed every other week of the bible study at church up to this point, and I dont want to jump in midway! I have already busted my chances of getting three workouts in this week, so I will just try again next week! :)

We need to make sure that our need for perfection doesnt keep us from doing what we need to do right now, and learn to be okay with doing things less than perfectly. Sometimes, part way is better than not at all, and doing a little here and little there will eventually get you to your goal.

Remember, that God never called us to be perfect. He is glorified in our unperfectness, in fact.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
2 Corithians 12:9

Doesnt that take some of the pressure off? :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Week 7: DeStressing our Minds

I think we underestimate the power of our minds, and so also the resource that it is for doing the Lord's work in our lives.

From the beginning of the Israel, God spoke to His people about keeping his faithfulness on the forefront of their minds.

As part of their law, he called them to "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates..." Deut 11:19-20

God knows we are forgetful people. He knows we must be reminded, and keep both his promises and His faithfulness always before us. He called the Israelites to regularly recall His great acts of power in their nation..because He knew they would forget. He knew that His great power would fade in their memory unless it was ever before them. He knew what their minds were capable of, and how they fell short.

He asks the Israelites and, likewise us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength." Deut 6:5 and Mark 12:30

And, we are called to Christ and in order to become what we are meant to, we are required to ".. not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Our minds are a powerful tool in the hand of the God who created it. We need to make sure we are making it available to the Spirit for His work in us.


By being aware of our thoughts. By not buying into the lies of the world around us, that tell us that we can't help what we think, and that as long as they stay thoughts they are harmless. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

We must be willing..."And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever" I Chronicles 28:9

We must replace ungodly, anxious thoughts with prayer and praise, "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21-23

Oh, and while we are thinking on such things ...what are ungodly thoughts? "Easy..." :)

In case you dont have it memorized yet ...""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." Philippians 4:8

This week, work on decluttering your mind. Ask God to help you identify those thoughts that are not useful to His will in your life, and then ask Him to give you the strength and ability to get RID of them, get CONTROL of them, get a new PERSPECTIVE on them, and give them to God, again!

Pondering Point: What thoughts do I struggle with that are wasteful of the resources of my mind given me by my Creator?

of the Week: "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." Philippians 4:8 ...I know, but it is such a great verse!

Discussion Questions: In what ways do you see that you or others are wasting our mental resources? By mentally comparing yourself with others? By unhealthy thoughts about yourself? By pondering things that arent worthy of a christian woman?

Resource Managment: Give it to GOD, again

"Trust in the Lord, with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5

So often things are simply beyond our control. We cannot do one thing about it. Getting rid of it, making a new plan, getting an new perspective or getting it done doesnt work as a solution. There is nothing to do BUT give it totally to God, and trust that in His wisdom it will work to His glory.

Certainly, doing so is easier said than done. It is a skill, that deserves practice and constant assurance that you have still left it there. God's hands are more capable than ours, and dont forget that really we know too little of the whole story to make the proper decisions anyways!

Again, only time with Him on a constant basis can ensure that your heart is fully surrendered to His bidding. Only constant reminding via scriptures of His promises, His truths and His faithfulness can keep our little forgetful brains focused in that direction.

There is true peace waiting, for those hearts that allow Him to bear the burden of your heart, soul, mind and body. Never underestimate Him, and His ability to give you peace beyond understanding...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Resource Management: Get a new PERSPECTIVE

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Perspective has so much to do with the things we identify as stressful. And, we misuse alot of our resources because we have the wrong perspective on things.

Being able to put things in their place, so to speak, can go a long way to our being able let things go and let God take control of them.

Changing how you see people, how you view your resources, how you see your work, how you view the time you have with your kids, how you see blessings or suffering in your life ..all can enable or deter you from being able to find peace in those areas.

The only way we can ensure that our perspective is such that peace is the result, is when our perspective is based on truth. That can only be found in our daily interactions with the Truth Giver and His word. Our eyes will only see with wisdom, if we learn from the Teacher the things of eternity as they lie in contrast to those "light and momentary" things.

Daily time with God is essential for having the right perspective on the world and situations around us.

If you dont already, make daily time for God and ask for His eternal perspective for your life. It will not only decrease your stress, but more importantly, therein lies the only true peace.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Resource Management: Get a new PLAN

This strategy works well with getting control of things ...sometimes getting control of something is a matter of coming up with a different, more effective way of doing it. Again, just having a plan sometimes is enough to destress a bit!

This post was originally posted November 11, 2008

Sometimes, when we look around and find that what have been doing for awhile isnt working anymore. Maybe there was never a plan to begin with, or maybe its just that your family, schedule or priorities have changed over time.

I know that when I was child-free, by routines were much different. My home would get cluttered, but was easily gotten under control. When I cleaned, it stayed that way on the most part. The messes were mine, or my hubby's ..which were easy pick up and put away in their clearly designated home. My routines were simple, through and completely inefficient for a home with children in it.

When I had one child, I got stuff done during naptime. It stayed clean, if not only for naptime. I had one child's worth of clutter and stuff, and only one to follow after. His schedule was mine, and I worked around it. That routine was slightly more complicated, but worked well for the time period. It does not work for our current crazy home of playdates, two kids, a dog, a cat, a part-time working mommy, an extra bedroom or two, church responsibilties ..etc.

If I held myself to the standard of either of those previous women, I would fall dreadfully short.

Even since I have had two children, our schedule has changed and evolved as naps changed and disappeared. Our plans have changed as kids get older, can take on responsibilities or their needs change. Our plans need to change as the kids have their own out of the home activities, and those have to meld beautifully their siblings, fathers and everyone's physical needs.

Plans need to change.

So, if things are not working right now ...ask, is it the plan itself that is flawed?

I could be that the routines that you have always used, and have always worked, may need revamped!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Resource Management: Control

We are not all control freaks ..right? No, but those of us who do like control (no comments from the peanut gallery, please) feel that way because having control had a degree of calm that comes with it. Being able to know what is going to happen, when and how gives a sense of order to the scenario.

But, you dont have to be a "control freak" to be able to appreciate order.

Order, is when things have a predictable outcome. Things have a place,we know where to be when, we know where the pennies are going before we get them ..and so on. Having the ability to have a predicable outcome from the effort you are putting forth can be calming in it self. It can be destressing (if not overdone, sure.) to know what the next step is before you get there.

Often, when things overwhelm us, we tend to see it as a huge picture. We have to lose 25 pounds to get to our goal weight, we have a mountain of laundry, we have more bills than money ..etc. We see it as a looming monster that we can not get on top of, and it steals our sense of calm.

It can place us in a position where we are less trusting, as well. Because of that, it can steal our peace.

When we lack a sense of control over some important areas of our lives, we can lose sight of who is really in control of the big picture. When we feel like our resources are totally sapped, then we feel we are too weak, too inadequate, too lost, not good enough to handle all this mess.

Getting things "under control" is not that we are taking control away from God, but that we are seeking a sense of order from those things that loom so large. When we can find order in something, its easier to see God in there, ...because "God is not the God of disorder, but of peace." I Corinthians 14:33

"Getting control" of something simply means that we are seeing whatever that looming thing is, and identifying a way to a predicable outcome ..some that gives us a sense of order, and the ability to see what needs doing next.

One area that needs a sense of control, for all of us, is the area of our finances. When we know what we have, what we need to cover, how and when we will cover it and what we need to plan on next, we give ourselves a chance to breath a bit easier knowing that there is a plan.

God is always in control, even when we are not. He is bigger than our chaos and our clutter. He can rise above all those things and areas where we are so weak. But, he speaks more clearly when we ordered in areas where He desires to be glorified. When we are using our resources better, by bring them to a better sense of order, then he can use them more effectively in our lives.

If you have identified an area, or several, that are especially stressful for you ..consider that you many need to get control of that area.

Is your body and your unhealthy weight make you feel like you arent using your body the way God would want you to? Get CONTROL of it ...Sparkpeople.com, Weight Watchers, eating more healthy and doing what you know to do, but get CONTROL of it.

Are your finances out of control, and you feel like you are drowning in bills? Financial Peace University, and the Dave Ramsey plan is simple and is great for helping you get that area under control.

Is your laundry, dishes or house work out of control? we will work on that these upcoming weeks. It is within our control, for the sake of order :)

Resource Managment: Get OVER it!

I know, it sounds harsh.

I have to say though, this one I think can help us with a good majority of the stresses we have in our day and our life.

"Getting Over" stuff is about putting it all into perspective. Its about seeing things as they are, not how they make us FEEL. Its about taking responsibility for the feelings we have, and not allowing our emotional reactions to create stress for us, or others.

Dont get me wrong. There are plenty of things that we simply cant let go, or deny ourselves right to feel about. Death of a loved one, heart sick issues, marriage relationships, abusive situations..these cant be "gotten over".

But, there are plenty of things that we can really tell ourselves to move pass, give up, get over.

You know what I am talking about. We girls are the worst about mulling over, creating mountains out of mole hills, enlarging, sharing, fretting, building up our emotions by feeding the stress til it takes over our minds and spirits.

Its a girl thing.

But not a good one.

Think about how much stress you can free yourself of by simply telling yourself on the onset, that you simply must let it go.

This strategy doesnt work for those things that need to be done. You cant get over laundry, doing dishes, or grocery shopping. But, you can get over the socks he left on the floor, the words someone said, the worry or fretting over something you cant control, the fact that someone is doing something a different way than you would, etc.

This is a DECISION. You have to decide you will let it go. You decide what you allow to stress you out, work you up, make you "crazy" ..you have to decide to not let it.

You will feel better. I promise.

Consider too, when you allow yourself to get stressed about anything it effects others whether it be the kids, the husband, the best friend, the guy at the grocery store, the customer service guy on the phone. Our stress levels dont just effect us. We owe it to ALL of those people to let go of stuff when we can :)

Need a little extra help to do that?

Pray. Pray for the ability to do so. Pray for peace. Pray for forgiveness. Pray for patience. Pray for mercy. Pray for a different perspective. Pray for him instead of getting mad about his socks. Pray her instead of thinking about her careless words.

We can do this. Its worth it!

Resource Management: Get RID of it!

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

It is amazing how we can manage to weigh ourselves down by having TOO much stuff, TOO many things and generally more than we need.

Things are weighing because with them comes the need to store them, the need to care for them, to maintain them, to fix them, to move them, to dust them, to clean them ...on and on. Having some things are helpful and beneficial, while others are simply more work than they are worth!

Our stuff can easily pile up in all areas of our home before realize that it has outlasted its usefulness for our homes and lives...creating a general sense of clutter and "too much".

How many times have you put away the same toys, watched the same Tupperware fall from the cabinet, picked the same pile from one area to another, shifted another paper stack from this table to that surface ...too much stuff can misuse our resources of time, mental energy and space. Depending on your personality, clutter can be equally frustrating for your mind as for your physical space. I know I am that way.

Getting rid of stuff can be a GREAT stress reducer, as well as helping decrease your source of some stresses.

If you arent sure what to get rid of, here are some pointers ..I posted this awhile back and changed it a bit as I get better at getting rid of stuff :)


Stuff has a tendency to multiply in my house. I have all kinds of excuses why not to get rid of things, until I attach them in my mind to some level of stress.

This is another one I have to attribute to FlyLady. She is big on getting rid of clutter and does lots of little exercises and reminders to encourage you to do it. The concept also shows up in most of the "simplify your life" books and articles.

I have always found such liberation in letting go of stuff. Even more so since I added this extra drive to get rid of ANYTHING that adds stress to, instead of adding VALUE or convenience to my life.

Some rules I go by:

* if you dont LOVE it, or NEED it..then get rid of it!

This applies to every area of your home from closets, kids closets, kids toys, living room furniture, kitchen gadgets, clothes in closet, organizing aids in the house, to backyard toys and smelly good stuff in the bathroom.

My sisters and I have been applying this to our kids rooms with some serious DeSTRESSING effects. Less is better. You love what you have more if you get rid of the stuff you dont love or need.

* If you have lots of something..then get rid of some of it!

Looking around the house you can find LOTS of areas to apply this. Its amazing how things collect and you buy when you have some of it already because you have so much you can see what you have!

Get HONEST about whether you need so many of of a thing..you may be surprised what your answer may be!

Some examples from my own house towels, sheets, cookie sheets, cleaners, shampoo/conditioner bottles, clothes (especially kids clothes..they dont need 12 pairs of jeans! Less, means less to wash!), silverware (everything but forks..ha!), plastic cups, first aid supplies, kids books, shoes, old food in the pantry...lots of places!

* If you cant remember WHY something is sentimental..then get rid of it.

How often do we hold on to stuff because so-and-so gave it to us? Obviously there are exceptions to this rule. Generally, if someone spent time making something or they have alot of attachment to my having it, I hold onto it. But, I couldnt tell you most if any of the gifts I have given to anyone in the last 5 years ...so if I gave you something, and its causing you stress..GET RID OF IT!

* If its broken or doesnt work..GET RID OF IT!

Adrian and I often disagree in this area. He wants to put it aside to fix it later. Some stuff we do that with, but I have gotten to the point that if I didnt LOVE it or USE it in the first place, it gets trashed.

*If you havent worn it, used it, or played with it in the last 6 months...GET RID OF IT!

This is a GREAT rule. I use it ALL the time. I use it especially in my closet and my kitchen. These are two areas where things seem to multiply unfettered.

* If you feel bad about throwing it away..GIVE IT AWAY

I have found that there are some things that I dont want any more, but that I cant just throw away. Its much easier for me to pass it on to someone who could use it (less guilt).

While most of the stuff goes to Goodwill, I have started using a few different avenues of distribution including Kidney Foundation (furniture, they will pick up!), Church library or nursery, friends who I think will love it, to friends who are doing garage sales (I have a NO garage sale rule myself..THOSE really stress me out!).

* If you MUST, then sell it ..but get it DONE!

Like I mentioned, I dont love having garage sales. That is largely due due to the fact that in order to have one, you have to collect all the junk that you will need to have one, for a long time before you actually have one. You have a pile, a box or something that is the designated "garage sale" area. Instead of getting rid of stuff, we just shift it from one cluttered area to another with hopes of having time at some point to get rid of it all and make a few pennies in the process.

I am not trying to knock it if you love it, and if you are good about making it happen. BUT ...often what happens is that it now creates a NEW stress of needing to get it out of the garage, guilt over how you could make money off it (ebay, Craigs List) ..so on and so on. You dont get rid of it, you only shift it.

Yes, you could save it all up and sell it at some point ..true. OR, you can collect it all, take it to someplace where people will appreciate it and be done with it TODAY with no more work or resources put towards that cause. THAT sounds better for me..

BUT, if you must sell it for some reason ..make it a priority to do it soon, and dont let it continue to haunt you because you have to see the pile whenever you open the garage or utility room. :)


Remember, that the things around us are not what makes up the important things. Our treasures are those things that we have been given by God to do his will in our lives, and their benefit goes way beyond the here and now.

By loosing the hold that things have on us, we can better use the resources that He gave us ..of our material possessions, our time (the time it takes to manage all those things), our mental and our physical energy.

Now, go find some thing to GET RID OF!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Resource Management: Do It

Many of the things that end up on our list of things to do, are just that. They are simply things that need doing.

We can think of a thousand things that fit under that category, right?

As a mom of two small ones, a wife, a part-time ICU nurse, a member of my church and of an active Mommy and Me playgroup ...I have a million things on a regular basis on my "to do" list!

I have home-related things, I have finance-related things, I have education-related things, I have church-related things, I have ...the list goes on, just like yours.

There are many, many suggestions out there that can help us prioritize the list of things that we need to simply get DONE.

All those lists overwhelm me :)

So, I have come up with my own plan for attacking those "Get it DONE" things that help me bring my mountain down to size, and leaves me feeling less stressed in the process.

First, my lists give me an idea of where I stand. Anything that I place on my Stress List, that I have identified as just needing to be done is right there in front of me. That is the first step ...seeing the monster for what it is.

Some things on my SL* may be, pay the bills, clip coupons, write a note, do the laundry, wash the sheets or vacuum the car.

Then, I have to decide what I am going to do with the limited resource of time and energy that I have at the time I am creating my list. Some days, I may have little to do outside the house so may have some hours to put to attacking that list. I may only have an hour before the kids get up, or I have to leave on our next adventure. Either way, I have to weight what needs doing with what resources I have at the time.

Prioritizing is one of those subjective things that you have to work out yourself. I do have my list of priorities close to my eyes, with it in the same place I write my lists. I like to remind myself of the fact that my kids come before the house (so the laundry can wait), that financial freedom is important to me (so taking the trouble to cash out money for the monthly envelopes is worth it!), and that I need to spend time with God before I get started on anything else. Its a good idea to keep track of what you are aiming for :)

Weeding out what needs to be done NOW, can give you a good idea of the order you need to things in. It will relieve the stress related to time pressure, and having it out of the way leaves room for doing other things. If it is a "get done today" thing ...do it. If you dont have anything that NEEDS to be done today, find something that needs doing soon and get it done. That way, you dont have to stress about it as the time closes in. Waiting til the last minute adds lots of undue stress to something, so plan ahead and do what you can before you HAVE to have to done right then.

And, lastly ...and my favorite "get it DONE" tool ..set a timer.

It is amazing what you can do with a bit of focused energy and attention. Using a timer to give myself boundaries helps my stress, because not only does it help me get it that thing quickly but because it gives me permission to stop when the timer goes off.

I literally use this tool every day. If I want to work on the garage, for instance. I will set my timer for 1 hour, attack the garage for that amount of time then stop when it goes off. I have gotten an hours worth of work done, it shows because it was focused work, and I can move on to something else if I need to. Next, I need to load the dishwasher. Set the timer for 15 minutes and go for it. At the end of 15 minutes, I am probably done and that is one more thing to check off the list.

Need to pay the bills? write a grocery list? clip coupons for this week? ...set the timer for 15 minutes and work it out. You will be surprised with what you get done.

Want to look at this idea a bit more ...I have written a post on this topic awhile ago. Take a look and let me know how it works! There is a concept that I stole called "Crisis Clean" ..its all about using your timer to help you get stuff done fast! I love it.

*In case you missed it, the Stress List is a place where you write down EVERYTHING that you find weighing on you. It helps to get an idea of what is overwhelming you. This list may be written or mental, but either way it gives you the pause to ponder what it is that is bearing weight on your shoulders and heart. SL worthy things may the dishes need doing, your mom is ill, your kids need discipline, your car needs gas, you need to lose weight ..whatever.

Remember, anytime you decrease stress in an area, you are freeing up resources for God to use in another more worthy area!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Week 6: Stress Strategies

This week, we are making a turn towards practically decreasing our stress levels. For the purpose of managing our limited resources better, we need to focus on HOW we will better utilize what we have to work with ..thus decreasing our stress levels.

These are some strategies that I have developed for myself. They are a list of possible plans of attack for the stresses that I note at any given moment or day.

I start out with a "Stress List" ..this is a list of all the things I cant think of that is weighing on my heart, mind, heart, spirit or body. Its a running list, whether mental or written, that I add to constantly. When it is written, I find that its easier to come up with a plan to manage all those stresses better.

Once I have a nice list of things that are stressful to me, I can work on a strategy to decrease the burden they create.

Here are the strategies that I work with ...

Get it DONE - this one applies to a good portion of the things on my list. I find that often something that simply needs doing, and hasnt gotten done is causing me some burden. Having a "just do it" attitude will go a long way in better managing your resources! Examples: grocery shopping, cleaning the bathrooms, paying bills, cleaning out the car, painting the house. Set a time, and just do it.

Get CONTROL of it - Often times, things that need constant attention can quickly get out of control. Mama of all things in this category, the ever present MOUNT LAUNDRYMORE! Getting control over things like this can help us put less time, energy and effort into in. And, its better than trying to attack it when its overwhelming. Another biggie, our schedules. Those monsters can loom ever larger if we dont watch it! Getting control of our time can help us regain some lost energy in that area (easier said than done, I know ..we will talk more about that this week)

Get RID of it - I have found that STUFF causes me alot of stress. Whether is too many clothes in the closet (none of which fit!), more sheets/towels than fit in the closet, too many kids toys, or just too much clutter ...get rid of it. Here is a link to a past post where I spoke to this issue ..I hope you find it helpful!

Get a new PLAN - sometimes the way you have been doing it for a long time simply doesnt work any more. It may mean that your resources have changed or the needs of you or your family have changed. If you figure out that the routine, system or plan of attack is not working anymore .. get a new one. It was easy to keep the house clean when mom was at home, but now that she is working ..we need a new plan! Before dad's work schedule changed we always went grocery shopping on Monday mornings, but it doesnt work anymore ...chose a different day to shop.

Get a new PERSPECTIVE - Often times, our perspective on an issue is weight bearing in itself. If we consider a different perspective of a situation or an issue, you may find that you are able to manage things better. For example, when the baby is sick and in order to meet his needs you have to sit all day and get NOTHING that you need to get done ...it can be frustrating and stressful. But, if you work on a change in focus, and look at this as a time to read and cuddle, a precious time that you can use to bond with your little one ...the sitting is less stressful, and you are able to use your resources of that moment better.

Get OVER it - Oh yes, you know what I mean. Us girls have a tendency to dwell on the things that worry us. We ponder, fret and worry and then start the cycle over again. Another, nicer, way to put it is, let it go. Whether is something you are fretting over that you have no control over, or that you keep thinking about what "she" said to you yesterday. If its that he keeps putting his socks on the floor, or you are frustrated that the gal at the check out was rude ...get over it. If its not worthy of your energy, then let it go.

Give it to God, again. We start our process by asking God to show us the areas that we are misusing our resources. We want to constantly ask Him to take our burdens off our shoulders, and then allow us to rest in his promises. Often, we are weighed down by things that we have no control over and no amount of stress strategies can take care of it. Only God can take those things away from us ..so give it to him.

We will keep looking at these strategies this week ..for now, ponder what things are weighing on you then see if you can work to decrease that burden of your heart, body, soul, mind and spirit.

Pondering Point: How can you apply these, or other strategies to improve your use of your limited resources?

Verse of the Week: Stay tuned ..we are gonna come back and look at some scriptures that will helps in this area this week!

Discussion Question: Do any of these strategies seem like they would, or have they worked for you? Tell us! If you have some ideas of other strategies ..share!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Week 5: Worthy vs. Unworthy Stress

In 2 Peter 1:3, Peter assures us that "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by own glory and goodness."

The idea that I have all that I need to live the life I feel called to, is both encouraging and a bit discouraging at the same time. It is encouraging because I know that God will provide what I need, and discouraging because I know he already has and I often still feel overspent.

Its all a matter of how we use our resources. Our resources are everything that has been given to us that we can use to accomplish his tasks in our lives. We have our time, energy (mental, physical, spiritual, etc.), homes, finances ..everything we can claim as ours in some way.

The Spirit, put in us to accomplish His will, requires our physical resources to accomplish His spiritual purposes for us.

So, we have to make sure that we are using our resources effectively. Not only because those resources need to freed up to be used by the Spirit, but also because the use and misuse of those resources leads to varying degrees of stress in our lives.

Use of resources, because of their limited supply, causes a degree of stress. Misusing those resources causes greater stress, and even more so when our resources are promised to the Father and we dont fulfill our end of the bargain.

We need to determine what is worthy of our resources, and what is unworthy of our resources (and therefore the stress that goes with the use of those resources).

Worthy uses of our resources are things that work towards the Kingdom for us or someone else in some way. They also give a degree of resources back, as we gain benefit from doing God's work on a daily basis.

Unworthy uses of our resources, are things that do not benefit the Kingdom. They do not give us resources to continue doing God's work further, they take rather than give.

For example, laundry is something that uses our daily resources. It is part of our home that requires time, energy and effort. It is worthy, because it is part of the godly home I am creating for my family. It gives resources back, when my family has what they need to get dressed in the morning. Comparisons, though, are not worthy. The act of mentally comparing myself to others takes mental and emotional energy. It pulls for those resources, and with no benefit to the Kingdom or to my walk with God.

We have to be on constant alert as to the worthiness of how we use our resources, and where we allow our stresses to lie. By questioning the worthiness of those things we fret over and give to, we can be more aware of those things that simply need to be let go, or gotten over.

Pondering Point: Note this week where your resources are going ...hint: if you note where your stress is, you will have a good idea of where your resources are going. Is it worthy?

Verse of the Week: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" Romans 14:17

Discussion Question: What are some things that you consider to be worthy, and what things are unworthy uses of our resources?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Portrait of Peace

In studying about peace, I was amazed to see how often Jesus spoke of peace, and how often peace and he were connected to each other throughout scripture.

Even before he was born onto the earth, there was a reference to peace as he was called, "the Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Zachariah, John the Baptist's father, sang a song that referenced both his son and the Son of God...Luke chapter one

"76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."

His legacy of peace began before his life did. He was the son of the God of Peace, afterall.

And, as he ministry began he spoke of peace often to those he ministered to, be they those he healed or his disciples.

Mark 5:34
He said to her, "Daughter, (the woman who touched the edge of his cloak) your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Luke 8:48
Then he said to her, "Daughter (the woman who touched the edge of Jesus' robe), your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

Remember what he said when he was one the boat with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee and a storm suddenly came up? "Peace, be still." Mark 4:39 And the wind and waves obeyed Him.

As Jesus was anticipated bringing his earthly ministry to completion, he assured his disciples

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 14:27
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Jesus must have had an air of peace about him, dont you think? This fella knew what he was doing, and where he was going. Even as he was distraught in the garden, he prayed that "Not my will, but yours" And when the soldiers and Judas came to take him, he was the picture of calm and peace when he told Judas, to "do what you came to do, Friend."

And, as he stood before those who falsely accused him, he remained quiet in the face of abusive questions (Luke 23:9), and as he was lead away to the cross his peace extended to those around him when he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

What a picture to imagine that as the sky darkened and Jesus shouted, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," he breathed his last.

When appearing for the first time the the disciples three days later, having overcome the world of death he said to them first, "Peace be with you." Luke 24:36

There are so many instances in the life of Christ that his peace was evident. His life was a portrait of peaceful submission to his Father, and the task to which he was committed.

So also in Christ do we find our own peace, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" Romans 5:1

Only in him, Christ our Prince of Peace, can we find that rest in our spirits, and comfort in our souls. Only in him can we find that thing that everyone desires, but we have within our possession as children of the Kingdom.

My prayer for you this day, "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 3:20

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Week 4: Prayers of Peace

Its one of the most precious things you can pray for a friend ..this peace that passes all understanding.

To be able to pray that a person feels a sense of godly calm in the face of their struggles, anxiety, fretting, feelings of abandonment or being overwhelmed...what a gift.

I love how frequently Paul mentions peace when he is closing out his letters to the churches and people he loved writing ...

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." I Thessalonians 5:23-24

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

These are precious prayers for the people precious to the heart of a man of God. Are they not still precious when prayed for a fellow mom, sister or friend?

God called the Israelites through the prophet Jeremiah, to pray for their country "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29:7

Praying for peace for a fellow sister or brother in Christ is a blessing indeed. Paul prayed at least one blessing of peace in every one of his letters in the New Testament.

In class last week, we assigned what we called "Peace Partners". These were our fellow sisters, some we may know and some way may not ..but all with whom we share the Spirit. We took one name, and committed to praying for peace for her for the next couple of weeks. I hope that you have been faithful to that promise, because those prayers will reap righteous rewards in their lives. If you werent assigned one, then be assured that anyone you pray for will benefit from your blessings of peace trough Christ.

To borrow from Paul..."Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you" 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Pondering Point: In what areas do you feel like you need a prayer of peace in regarding your life?

Verse of the Week: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 5:1

Discussion Thoughts: Have you experienced a sense of peace in your own life, when you know that its being prayed for either by you or someone else? How do you feel that your peace changed the situation?

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