Archives For stress

photo

Just a few of my daily alarms

Month two is coming to a close and I am about to wrap up my stress fast. For the past four weeks I have had my alarm set for seven different times during the day/night reminding me it was time to pray. I will be completely honest as I say that the 6 AM and midnight prayers were not exactly on schedule. I attempted to do these but after I realized that I was just repeating myself for about half an hour because I continued to fall asleep I decided to change the times a little. My 6 AM prayer was done after I was up and dressed and moving around so that my mind had some time to wake up. The midnight prayer was just when I was getting ready for bed. I decided that it didn’t really matter what times the prayers were just so long as I took those seven pauses in the day to pray.

Here is what I realized during this month. First, it is way easier to actually do all seven pauses when you are home! When you are out and about it doesn’t matter if you try to find a quiet place, somehow they always seemed to be interrupted. Second, I realized how little time I actually spend before God talking to him about something other than a request. The seven prayers each had something different to pray about, so yes there were times when I would make a “request.” However, looking at the themes of the prayers: thankfulness, love toward others, servant’s heart, praying for my husband, praying for my son, praying for protection and praying for healing (for those I do and do not know) I began to spend more time praying for these things and less time being selfish. It is so easy to fall into a routine with our prayer life, and so easy to become selfish in our prayers. Once I began to recognize this I started to focus a little less on the things that I wanted God to answer and more on what else I could pray for during these seven pauses.

Now the question you might be asking yourself is how well did this fast carry out my original goal of tackling stress? Rather beautifully! I can’t tell you how many times I would begin to get stressed out and then guess what would happen? My alarm would go off. Oh, it’s time to pray! So I would take the time to pause and pray and by the time I was done praying my stress level had lowered AND I wasn’t even praying about what was stressing me out! Taking those few moments to pray about a non-related subject was all it took! It’s all because I took the time to be in God’s presence, and wow does that make a difference when you come back to whatever was previously stressing you out!

So will I keep this up now that the month is coming to an end? Probably not to the same extent, I mean I wasn’t even perfect during this month. Yes, I messed up and missed a few prayers during the day. But, my view is forever changed. There is something to be said about being intentional about how we handle stress, our prayer lives and not always coming to God with the “I want” kind of attitude. I will definitely take what I have learned from this fast to heart!

December, oh how I love you! It brings colder weather, Chase’s birthday, snow on occasion and the Christmas season! It really is my favorite time of the year! The joys of bundling up with a good book in hand while the fireplace sends off it’s warmth, decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for loved ones in wonderfully decorated stores that are playing those catchy Christmas tunes. And you can’t forget all the fun Christmas movies that are always a great addition to this time of year! There is only one thing that puts a damper on this glorious season… STRESS! We all get stressed from time to time. Those packed shopping malls can be the cherry on top of a stressful sundae. You all know what I am talking about… the crowded walk ways that no one can ever get through without feeling squished. Then there are all the other stresses that can come around this time… budgeting for presents. We all want to be able to afford to give everyone we love something nice for Christmas, but on a nice fee-sable budget The last thing anyone wants is to give a gift that screams budget.

While most of these things are never really that big of a deal, when the moment comes that we feel overwhelmed the stress has finally come and everything is a big deal! Here is a confession… when I am stressed chocolate and I are best friends-especially Reese’s peanut buttercups! I know, this is a terrible habit to form. It’s either the chocolate or crying. Well this month I am attempting to tackle this issue! Month two of my Searching for Simplicity began this week and I am doing the stress fast. Yes, I am well aware that I can not prevent from stressful situations coming my way, but that is not the point of this fast. This month is all about being intentional in how we respond to stress, making it a habit to run to God in prayer instead of our typical responses.

This fast is all about setting aside seven times in my day for prayer, praying over specific subjects during each prayer time. Currently my alarms are set for midnight, 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.! Yes that’s right, my alarm is set for midnight! It won’t be easy, but already in the first week I am amazed at what I have begun to learn about myself, but that I will share with you another time!

 

Photo Credit: Allie Caulfield

I am officially two weeks into my first month of fasting towards simplicity. Let me just say that the beauty of only having seven articles of clothing for a month really makes packing for vacation a breeze! Boy did I plan that well, or did I? Seriously though, I was done packing in less than 10 minutes. There was no standing in front of the closet debating which shirts I would possibly want to wear. I never thought about how much I over pack for trips. I usually plan an outfit a day and then some. Really, do I honestly need four extra shirts and three pairs of shoes to visit family? My argument would usually be what if it gets dirty, spill something on it, the weather changes or I just change my mind on what I want to bring. If you can’t tell, I tend to over think when I am packing… I believe this fast has taught me to come to terms with that. My options for our vacation were limited, I got my seven articles and that was that. Did it make my trip any less fun because I didn’t have a ridiculous amount of clothes in my suitcase to pick from, no! Actually, it made it worry free. I absolutely loved that we only had one suitcase and it made getting home and everything put away so much easier! Worry free I tell you! The biggest difficulty so far with the limited wardrobe is that I am a messy eater. In fact, night one of the fast we were eating a snack and of course I drop it on me. I knew this about myself all along but it has never been an issue until I’m on vacation with no washing machine and a limited number of clothing. I admit, every night I was hand washing my shirts in the bathroom sink and then laying them in front of our fireplace in our room to dry. I mean honestly I am not that much of a messy eater but apparently on vacation my messiness was at an all time high:

Day one– I spill my gravy from my french fries at lunch 

Day two morning– I spill cranberry juice at breakfast

Day two afternoon– I spill hot chocolate

It was a pretty funny picture to watch two of my three shirts hanging to dry while I am hoping to not spill my chips and salsa on my only clean shirt… at least it makes for a funny story now. I know this probably sounds ridiculous and you are probably wondering if I am even pay attention to what I am doing when I eat. I guess I need to be a little more careful, when you have an entire wardrobe of clothing being a messy eater doesn’t really seem to catch your eye, I plan to change this… so far since being home from vacation I have not spilled anything on my clothes! Woohoo, yay me!

Month one clothing fast- so far, not as bad as I thought. Still two weeks to go…

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

At church now we are going through a series that is inspired by the book Soul Detox by our pastor Craig Groeschel. The sermon last week was about a restless soul. Now if your like me I wasn’t completely sure what that would mean and I definitely didn’t feel like it would be something that I would need to worry with. But, Sunday was just another one of those days where you are sitting listening to the sermon and you feel like God is speaking directly to you, and rather loudly in fact.

There are so many things that I worry and stress about. I pray and ask God to take control and I believe that I have done what I was supposed to do because I have “given it to Him.” But, then I realized that I might have prayed about it, but then it’s still on my mind through out the day. The point that really spoke to me was when my pastor said that we can’t truly focus because our mind is elsewhere, worrying, stressing or just thinking about that to-do list. Wow did that make everything clear to me. Just because I pray and ask God to take control doesn’t give me the freedom to still sit and stress and worry. I have to be able to pray about things and leave them with God and not try to carry them back with me.

He challenged us to sit for five minutes a day and think about nothing but God. Here’s a hint, if you don’t think you have a restless soul just try the five-minute challenge… you’ll be surprised at how many things you think about other than God… like doing the dishes, cleaning the house, cooking, finances or anything else that is stressing you or just on your plate. I have done this challenge everyday since last week and some days are harder than others, but I have noticed a major difference in my focus, my attitude and just my day. We have to be able to turn off our spinning wheels in our heads and focus it on the things that matter… the dishes will be there later, it’s all okay!

Photo Credit: Cristiano Betta

“God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” 1 Corinthians 12:6 (NLT)

Today was one of those days where nothing seemed to go my way. First off I have been waiting for a phone call from a doctor that I was referred to so that I can make an appointment, well they called and I got to make my appointment…. for four months from now. That’s right you read that correctly, FOUR months! That really frustrated me and it was at the beginning of my day. When I tried to see about getting put on a cancellation list in hopes of possibly having the chance of getting an appointment sooner they proceeded to tell me that they do not have one of those lists and to just call and check in with them. Lovely, I guess I get to just call daily and ask about any cancellations.

Then, while Eli was taking his nap I got on the computer to do some work and guess what… the software I needed to use wasn’t on the computer and I thought it was. It felt like the sarcastic little cherry on top of that frustrating ice cream sundae which felt like my day. My husband assured me that this evening he would be able to put the program onto the computer which is great, it just was not what I wanted to deal with at the moment.

While these two events were not the only part of my day they were still big issues that happened that really frustrated and discouraged me. I have to just remind myself that God is in control! No matter how frustrated I get or don’t understand, He sees the big picture and everything will work out according to His awesome plan! And for those that were wondering my day did eventually get better.

Photo Credit: Becky Wetherington