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Entries in Stress (10)

Tuesday
Jul112017

Your Life Makeover: Are You Ready?

Wildfire survivor Elizabeth Van Tassel garners encouraging real-life stories and creates fantasy for kids with one goal in mind—helping tweens, teens, and adults find RESILIENCE amidst the most challenging times in life.

     

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she encourages us to be open to life makeovers, so God’s touch will be evident in our lives.

“I didn’t ask for this season of great change, but I knew there was a whisper of something more packed into the move," Elizabeth said. "There’s a moment when you decide to either live a life of calling or of complacency. I didn’t want any regrets."

I (Dawn) think we can identify with seasons of change—expected and unexpected. But how we approach those changes makes a huge difference.

Elizabeth continues . . .

My husband looked stunned at the out-of-town, unsolicited job offer he’d received. It was an amazing opportunity for him, but I hesitated at first.

Our infant son’s third word was “box,” because our family had moved six times in two years.

Those were awful, unplanned and emergency-tinged after losing everything we owned in a massive wildfire years ago.

So, the word “move” provided a real challenge for me.

But the experience of giving everything to the Lord, and watching Him build a life for us again also freed me to invest in hope.

I said yes, and jumped.

Right now, we’re living in boxes in temporary housing, and breathing in the moment of trust daily.

  • Where will we live? Not sure yet.
  • Where will my grocery store be? Must remain flexible.

It’s like the TV show where they show up and dump your old clothes and take you on a shopping spree for a whole new look.

Are you open to His leading when this happens? Where does your life need transformation?

What if you’re cruising along, pretty content with life in general, and then a great change arrives?

Are you ready to be receptive to that ‘still, quiet voice’ prompting you to be open to something new? What could you miss if you’re not listening? Can dark times of loss and recovery actually make you MORE resilient?

Here’s what David had to say in Psalm 36:7-9:

“The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

Your ability to be RESILIENT, or flexible enough to bend rather than break when pressures rise and life brings more stress, is to be able to UPGRADE as you do three things.

1. Nestle in closer, even when you don’t feel safe.

It’s all right to realize you’re a bit fragile. Ironically, those brittle moments are when we can uncover a new relationship with Christ.

Share your dreams and feelings. Give yourself time and permission to hang out in the Word and in conversational prayer. It can bring connection and healing. Perhaps those moments when you need “refuge” will bring you even closer to Him.

2. Look for abundance in unexpected places.

When your life situations shift dramatically, there will be losses. Friends, or homes, or even jobs may change.

But in that season, what new doors are being opened?

Is it a caring friend who unexpectedly shows up to help?

Are you developing a new skill?

You never know how God can use your situation.

Be open to new lessons.

Where there’s growth, there’s a chance for Him to retool something; because He LOVES makeovers—those of the heart—the most.

3. Search for a river of delights.

So many people, perhaps hundreds, have asked me how we stayed positive, our marriage survived, and our children have coped with so much change. We found a way to be intentional with our time and our activities, and even planned more fun into our priorities—thanks to our kids’ perspective!

Time slows when there’s loss or death or depleted resources. Eventually, after some healing, you’re ready for significant questions in uncovering how to live a life of calling rather than just getting by.

You’ll find that river of delights when you sit quietly and ask Him:

  • For refreshment.
  • For the next breath.
  • For deliverance.
  • And for acceptance.

So, are you ready to take a breath, listen more, and learn from painful moments? Can you pack your own boxes? What’s holding you back?

Elizabeth Van Tassel, resilience expert and fantasy writer, has really lived a life with diamonds, wildfires, and miracles. A wildfire survivor and gemologist who lost every possession and her home in the 2007 Witch Creek Wildfire, she winds tales of wondrous gems and destructive loss into fantastic fantasy for the next generation and beyond. She also speaks, writes nonfiction, and blogs weekly for adults and kids about living a resilient life. Learn more about Elizabeth here.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Ron Porter at Pixabay.

Thursday
Sep292016

Well Done or Burnt Out?

Kathy Carlton Willis knows a lot about living under pressure. I've followed her and her husband during a difficult year, and she focused on the Lord to keep her faith strong. Kathy also knows a lot about the stress of burn-out, and in this Spiritual Life and Self-care UPGRADE, she shares wise counsel.

"Sometimes I wonder if my efforts will lead to me hearing 'Well Done' or being burnt out," Kathy said. "Let's look at the recipe for finding the balance."

I (Dawn) think this is such a vital topic in our busy, busy world. Several years ago, I almost totally lost my ministry because of a health issue related to burn out. Loving friends did question all I was doing at the time, but I wish someone had pulled me aside and asked tough accountability questions about my priorities and why I was doing what I was doing.

Kathy continues …

In most recipes, the difference between making a crispy creation and a delightful dish is in two variables. Time and temperature. (Just like the old phone service you could call for that information!)

Getting the best out of life for God’s BIG glory without burning out requires those same two variables. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Time

  • How long do you spend on the things that require your attention during your waking hours?
  • How long do you sleep and rest between periods of busyness?
  • Do you have time to add something new to your schedule, or do you need to delete something before you add anything else?

2. Temperature

  • How hot does your passion burn for your specific projects?
  • How consistent are your efforts before you need to take a break?
  • Do you get bored easily with the project?

Oftentimes we evaluate the ingredients of a recipe to determine if it will be a success, when the real issue is to make sure we have the time and temperature set correctly.

It’s wise to ask God to lead in adding to or taking away from your workload. Seek Him to reveal what activities tickle your taste buds. And follow His lead when it’s time to take it easy for a bit.

If it’s been a while since you had a day you could label BLESSED REST,  then you probably need a day like that!

Overdo or overdue?

Are you on the verge of burning out? I realized it was time to slow down and relax when I wrote the following paragraph to my mom:

“I want one day to relax and do what I want, when I want.

I haven’t had one of those in a LONG time. Overdo.

Sort of my Merry Christmas present to myself!”

See the problem? I spelled “overdue,” overdo. And that was the problem.

I was overdoing it—rest was overdue!

We rarely will admit we’re burning out until it’s too late. The toast is already burnt. We’ve pushed the time and temperature too long, too hot. 

And you know what happens when you let the toast burn? It stinks! It stinks when we push ourselves too hard, as well. We’re no good for anyone, at that point.

Let the toaster cool off and add more bread. You rest, then decide what God wants you to add or subtract from your life schedule to fuel your passions and feed your purpose without overdoing it!

Burnt Out?

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9 KJV)

Well Done?

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21 AMP) 

When you seek Jesus to be Lord of your life (Master) and are faithful in His instructions, seeking to be effective for the success of the Kingdom and not merely personal success, you will hear Him exclaim about your work, “Well done!”

Where are you headed—to hearing “Well done” or being burnt out?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. She wrote Grin with Grace with AMG Publishers and has several books releasing over the next few years. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Thursday
May052016

Passing on Our Peace of Mind

When I think of the word "peace," I think of Julie Sanders. She has weathered changes recently, focusing on the Lord, and she is excited to serve Him. In this Mother's Day UPGRADE, the writes about a special kind of legacy we can leave the next generation.

"Whether we are a grandparent, mom, foster parent, or mentor," Julie says, "children will challenge our peace. Parenting is not a place to lose our peace of mind and heart. How do we keep the peace and pass it on?"

As I (Dawn) think back to my early parenting days, I have to admit many nights I pillowed my head with the opposite of peace. I think many moms today are "wired," stressed out and searching for peace too! But having peace isn't just about us.

Julie continues . . .

Since we can’t impact what we don’t possess, passing peace to the next generation starts with practicing it in our personal life.

Before we can give kids "a peace of our mind," we have to have it planted firmly in our own.

Many children are more familiar with “meltdowns” and being “stressed out” than models of calm in the commotion of a day.

Because children today live in a conflicted world, they need to see a heart of peace modeled—to take a godly, grown up hand and walk pathways of peace through uncertainty.

Only when peace fills us can it pour out of us.

1. Pursue it

Faith in Christ not only makes the personal practice of peaceful living possible; it makes it a promise (Romans 5:1). Women who believe in Jesus move from grasping for out-of-reach peace to the promise of it.

The pursuit of a calmly-confident way of living is not unrealistic for those who know Christ. God has made it possible through His Son.

Confidently, expectantly, pursue the peace you are meant to experience in this life.

2. Prioritize it

It’s never been easier to be distracted from God’s ways. Instead of hoping to receive a randomly-grown peaceful spirit, take steps to cultivate it. Plan to read your Bible, be with God’s people, and practice prayer.

Children will learn to love the peaceful life, crave it and plan for it. Instead of focusing on worldly worries in our conversations and energy, setting our mind on the Spirit produces “life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Put peace at the top of your list of daily pursuits, and those in your life will be touched and taught by the calm that comes with you. If peace matters, plan for it.

3. Protect it

Your enemy works against your desire to pass on peace. Expect to be opposed, but determine to protect the peace you need, want and value (Romans 12:18; 14:19). When relationships in your home, workplace, church, or community stir conflict and drain peace from your heart, work to stop it. Refuse to focus on worldly worry.

Choose peace and guard its place in your life. Peace is worth having to give.

4. Pass it on

The next generation looks for hope they don’t see in the world. “Is there cause for hope?” they want to know. Those who have pursued peace as a priority say, “Yes, and ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope,‘”(Romans 15:13).

Women who walk in God’s peace pass on a heart and mind of peace to children who come after them. Mom? Grandma? Aunt? Friend? Mentor? Foster mom? Your gift of a peaceful life will serve the next generation well.

If we put our faith in Christ, we can expect peace of mind and heart. “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace,” (James 3:18).

Today’s children look for grown ups walking in peace, and as they find us, they will follow in pathways sown with the seeds of peace.

Our gift of a peaceful life will serve the next generation well.

What are you already doing to cultivate a life of peace? Would those around you say you bring peace with you?

Julie Sanders, the mom of two young adults and a mentor to teens and young moms, is purposefully passing on peace to the next generations. As the director of a program in the Inland Northwest for children and families in poverty, Julie believes living out God’s peace is a powerful way to bring hope to our hurting world. She writes from her online home: “Come Have a Peace.”

Graphic adapted, courtesty of pixabay.

 

Thursday
Apr212016

Stop Pressuring Yourself!

Kathy Collard Miller writes to help women be wise and productive. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she helps us consider the "pressures" in our life from the perspective of God's Word.

“Why does life feel full of pressure?" she said. "There’s so much to do, so much to decide. People expect a lot and every situation seems potentially disastrous.”

Pressure. Stress. I (Dawn) have thought much about this lately, dealing with some personal stressful circumstances. I'm wondering if my thought-processes contribute to the struggle. Does Kathy have a word for me? And you?

Kathy continues . . .

The pressures of life can easily add up and feel overwhelming. Even when we’re seeking God, it’s not easy to replace pressure with peace and joy.

I remember seeing how I added lots of pressure to my life without realizing it. I thought I was following God, but in my cloudy thinking, I was contributing to the pressure.

Of course, there are many ideas for diminishing pressure but here are three ideas I’ve found helpful. I hope one or more help you.

1. Downsize!

My mom taught me, my sister and my brother how to clean our rooms every Saturday. And that included washing the sheets! After I had a family of my own, I still washed our sheets every week, even though I felt mounting pressure because of a husband who worked long hours, two toddlers and trying to serve the Lord.

One day I mentioned to my neighbor Pat about washing the sheets every week. Pat casually said, “Oh really? I wash ours every two weeks.”

Shocked, I replied, “You mean it’s ok to do that?”

I realized in that moment I was pressuring myself to do something that wasn’t needed. As I began to ask myself if there were other pressures I was putting on myself unnecessarily, I found others.

What can you eliminate or do less often that will relieve some pressure?

Jesus’ said to Martha when she was trying to make so many dishes for company: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:41 ESV).

Of course we know He meant sitting at his feet like Mary, but maybe He also meant she could “downsize” the meal to include only one dish!

2. Re-read your journal.

Sometimes I’ll read my journal from a year ago or years ago.

I’m shocked to see that the things I worried about and felt pressured about weren’t really that important—in the end.

I wrote about what terrible things might happen if I didn’t do something just “right.” Or about the long range consequences if I made a mistake.

But without reading my journal, I wouldn’t be able to tell you now about those pressure-making circumstances. At the time, I felt pressured to pray exactly the right thing—as if I could know the future.

God worked things out often without me even knowing how to pray.

Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to lean on our own understanding. I think we can diminish pressure by not expecting ourselves to know exactly how to pray.

Yes, pray! But trust in God’s compassionate grace to know the right way to answer, even if it’s “no.”

3. Abide.

Lately, I’ve concentrated on living in the moment by following Jesus’ command to “abide”: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9 ESV).

For me, that has looked like being alert to God’s leading moment by moment and trusting His love can cover when I misunderstand.

It has meant believing:  

“God will give me enough time and energy to do what He wants me to do as I seek Him.”

If something doesn’t get done as I expected and I abided in Him, then that’s what He wanted to happen. I don’t have to feel pressured and beat myself up.

Which of those three insights could help you to resist pressuring yourself?

Kathy Collard Miller loves to help women trust God more through her 50 books and her speaking in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Kathy recently wrote Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today; and Choices of the Heart (Elk Lake Publishers). Visit Kathy's website/blog.

Graphic from Morguefile.

Thursday
May142015

How to Stop Being an Adrenaline Junkie

Joan Webb’s intentional living so aligns with my desire to make wise choices. I invited her to write this Attitude UPGRADE because she puts her finger on a big issue with so many women.

“‘You really love this, don’t you? You’re so animated when you’re busy working.’ Although my client meant this as a compliment,” Joan said, “I gagged when I heard her words.

OK. I (Dawn) will get totally honest here. Joan pegged one of my huge struggles. I live with the stress of busyness, and some of it is self-imposed. Oh, how I needed to read this! Maybe you do too.

Joan continues . . .

To me, my client’s words represented a lifestyle I’d tried to ditch. Anything that reminded me of my excessive behavior felt like a punch in the gut.

I get a high when rushing, working and finding solutions. I am an adrenaline junkie. 

What do I mean by “adrenaline junkie”? 

Experts say action-addiction is both a process and a substance addiction. We get a high when we over-do, over-rush or even over-help. As long as the chemical keeps flowing, we medicate our past or current distress. 

Incidentally, some action-addicts appear motionless at times, but their minds are racing.

Normally, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline release when we sense there’s a threat to our well-being. It’s the “Fight or Flight Response,” and it produces a shot of energy, giving us strength to cope with frightening situations.

With this response, heart rate escalates, digestion slows and blood flow forces to our muscles. Our bodies return to their natural state of relaxation when the real or perceived threat passes. 

When we’re addicted to action, we remain in chronic stress-mode, causing damage to our bodies. 

Initially, symptoms are fairly mild, like chronic headaches and lowered resistance to colds. Eventually we can develop depression, panic attacks, gum disease, unexplained weight gain, diabetes, stomach problems and even heart disease. 

Who wants THAT?

Doctors agree there is a pandemic of action-addiction in our world today. Author Anne Wilson Schaef writes:

“What belief have we accepted that suggests that, if we are not rushing and hurrying, we have no meaning?” 

An often-effective treatment for action-addiction includes identifying and modifying our negative thought patterns. For example, modification of the above misbelief can become: I am a valuable person, even when I quit working and helping to relax.

This all reminds me of something the wisest man who ever lived wrote: "Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6).

When I continually run, chase, rush after stuff—even if it is very good and helpful stuffI whiz past tranquility in the pursuit.

What are some wise, practical things we can do to shake hands with tranquility again?

1. Pause to breathe deeply.

Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself time to think and feel again.

2. Pause to enjoy God.

Reflect on who you are in Christ! He invites you to come and find rest. (Matthew 11:28-30.)

Pray—have an unrushed conversation with the Lord. Soak in His love; meditate on what He’s said.

3. Pause to enjoy yourself … and others (without trying to fix them).

Honor who God created you to be.

If you’re an introvert, schedule a re-energizing alone-time activity. (Maybe just to soak in a hot tub. Perhaps to enjoy an overnight personal retreat.) If you’re an extrovert, schedule a re-vitalizing activity with friends, uninterrupted by to-dos and work.

And repeat these steps at regular intervals!

Ahhhh. I can feel my shoulders relaxing and that constant adrenaline surge diminishing.

What helps you become friends with tranquility again? 

Joan C. Webb is a speaker and author who has written thirteen books including The Intentional Woman (co-authored with Carol Travilla), The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right and a four-book devotional series for children. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with writers and communicators, Joan helps set people free to become who they were designed to be and from what holds them back. For more information about becoming an intentional woman, visit Joan's website