Monday, May 21, 2012

7: Stress - Part Two

We are moving in 10 days. In a week and a half we will be moving our little family from Charleston, SC to Nashville, TN. SC has been our home for 9 wonderful years. My husband I moved here as newlyweds, made three babies here and here we decided to embrace the simplicity of life it turns out we both crave. We are moving closer to family, and towards good plans that God has planned for us.

We are so excited about our next steps ...God is good.

This week will no doubt be one of the most stressful ones of our year so far - we have an abundance of packing, sorting, getting rid of (after all, we also fasting from excess in our possessions ..a great time to think about that is when you are packing it all up into individual boxes!) and other details (like getting  a JOB!) to think about as we prepare.

What a better week to focus on the best stress reliever ever?

Part One of the 7: Stress fast was a week or so ago. Part Two will be this coming week where I will focus more diligently on taking time to embrace the seven pauses that JH talks about in "7: an experimental mutiny against excess"

It will be awesome to see how focusing on God will affect this week of stress :)

I will post in real time this week ...

Day One - Week Two

One of my favorite pauses is The Awakening Hour. Its the first one of the day, and it is the one I have found is the easiest to do. That is, assuming I beat the kids up and get to enjoy some quiet before the day begins. On my prayer blog (my version of a prayer journal) I have taken more time to focus on this time of day, at least in written form. 

I love to ponder what the day holds, and to ask blessings on all that both we and God have planned for us. I also love the "new mercies every morning" part. This one strikes me especially as a blessing because the week since we started the moving process I have woken up every morning around 4am in a panic. My brain won't let me sleep, and I keep rehearsing lists of things I need to do and things I should have done already. Its also in this hour, in my compromised mind and heart that Satan takes a chance to remind me of all my failings in the day past. He reminds me of my harsh words, and my unkind gestures towards my kids. He recalls my weaknesses and highlights for me in 3D color. 

The Awakening Hour is my chance to put all those things to rest - to give the reasons for anxiety to God and embrace the promise of new mercies on this day. 

Thank You, God for new mercies. 

Day Two - Week Two

Today was one of the most stressful ones so far in this move process.  It seemed always fated when my alarm would go off to remind me of a pause, since they seemed to ring at the times when things were peaking and the stress was mounting. 

Yesterday, during Twilight Hour, we sold our little car. It had been posted on Craigslist for 10 minutes before I got the call from the guy who bought it.   Coincidence? Maybe, but I think God was working on it for us! :)

One thing that I am noting, as I had noted my last week to really work on it, is that a "pause" often is just that. It is not an hour of prayer, or a full-fledged devotional. It often can only be a small pause in the day - a deep breath where I give it all to God and then jump back on the crazy train. 

But even these small moments are beneficial - they are heart and mind focusing. They, more than once, have stopped a downward spiral to anxious/fearful thinking. I didnt observe each and every pause today. Often they came in the middle of a phone conversation or something where I couldnt really focus my brain the moment. I will work more definitively pausing tomorrow - even still, the last pause of the night before I drift off.  Good Night.

Day Five - Week Two 

As the weekend approaches, the last long weekend before our big move (we pull out a week from today), I am grateful for reminders to pause this week. 

My most difficult pauses are the noon time one (The Illumination Hour) and the early evening one (The Twilight Hour). These ones seems to pop up at the most stressful parts of our day when even a short pause seems crazy. These are some of the loudest times of our day - with things being a bit nuts and usually attitudes are the least productive for a good, thoughtful pause. 

I guess it's these times when recognizing these pauses are the most important - but man is it hard to go from yelling at kids to standing before the throne of God with a humble and contrite heart. Its hard to go from 75 to 0 in seconds flat. 

How crazy is it that such moments are so hard to come by? And how sad that its my own state of mind and state of heart that makes it hard? How wonderful to one day remain in such a state of heart as I am in now, when at the beginning of the day when my heart is humble, submissive and willing to lay anything and everything at the feet of Jesus?  What a day when these pauses are just a supplement to my hearts constant prayers and when these pauses do not stand in stark contrast to my current state of mind?

Wrap Up:

Well, according to my phone and its reminders I have been working on using the 7 pauses for about three weeks. Yes, these are literally some of more stressful weeks of my life this far in 2012 - but the pauses have kept God and the True Source of Peace in the forefront of my mind through all of them.

We are moving in three short days. Things are coming down to the wire - we have all that little, irritating stuff left to do.  In order to survive it all, these pauses are going to be most necessary. 

While my first line of defense against stress is to do what we need to do to get rid of the things that make us that way, there are so many times in our lives when getting rid of those sources just doesnt work. So often we find ourselves in the midst of chaos that we have no control over, that is nothing about how we managed anything, or how organized we are. Its just part of life.

These are the moments when we have the ability to tap into the unlimited supply of God's grace and peace. These moments are the ones where peace makes no sense, and that's why we end up in praise to God for providing it anyways.  

The 7 pauses were a great chance for me focus on that - to stop in the middle of my chaotic day and remember He whose child I am, stressful moments or not. 

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