Four Ways to Handle Stress

Is your house a mess? Do you get overwhelmed with the thought of getting it in order? Or do you simply pretend it really doesn’t matter since nobody’s going to see it but you, your spouse (if you’re married) and your kids? If you’re like me, you let everything build up until you look around one day and decide to do something about it. You get tired of the clothes lying around in the bedroom, the laundry piling up in the clothes baskets, layers of dust on your furniture, dishes piled up in the sink, or tripping over shoes and toys around the house. Sounds familiar? Now I must say my physical house may not be quite that bad, but I have to admit I’ve had to take a spiritual check-up recently and discovered I’ve let some weeds overtake my thought life. In other words, I realized I’ve been distracted or stressed. So what do you do then? I asked God to help me discipline my thought life. And how do you do that? I’ll share my process.

1. First I prayed and asked God to show me how to get started. For me, the book of Nehemiah has been my starting point. Nehemiah was a leader in a foreign land, a man with a vision to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem. He heard about the condition of his homeland and wept. But he did not stop there, he came up with a plan. The first thing he did was seek God’s wisdom.

2. Secondly, I decided to establish a personal plan of action. I would find out everything I could about Nehemiah: Who he was, Where he lived, His situation, His purpose or plan.

  3. Then I decided to go on the journey with Nehemiah, a slow walk. I would follow him and make his story mine. I determined to find principles in his life which I could apply to my plan to rebuild my walls. I believe in the power of journaling, so I’m writing a verse or two daily in my own words, writing the principle (rule or truth) in the passage and then the application (how it applies to me). I follow with a prayer for God’s help, realizing that any progress is success. This morning I spent time listing things I am thankful for.

  4. Finally I practice memorizing a key phrase from the verses to stamp them on my spirit. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my journey.

I challenge you to join me on my journey or ask God to point out areas in your life which need attention. Then ask Him to help you with a plan of action.

Father, thank you for showing me what I need to work on and then giving me the resource, your Word, to help me discipline my thoughts. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Are Your Stakes Being Removed?

I recently picked up a copy of HGTV magazine and read a column entitled “How Bad Is It?” For those unfamiliar with this magazine, the letters stand for Home and Garden Television magazine. A reader asked if it was bad to put stakes around a newly planted tree. The expert, Felicia Feaster, gave an immediate response: “Don’t spring for the extra support. Trees grow best when they can move naturally against the wind.” The bottom line was that a “tethered” or supported tree doesn’t allow the tree to develop a strong root system. The expert further suggested that, if used, stakes should be flexible and short-term, not used “more than a few months.”

I thought about that article and had to admit I don’t like it when God removes my stakes. It’s often uncomfortable, painful and frightening. Some of those stakes might include jobs, health, family, friends, church, reputation, and the like. Nobody wants to admit he or she is depending upon those things like a comfort blanket. Not until we find ourselves hanging by our fingertips do we realize just how much we’ve been holding onto these stakes when we should be holding onto God. While we’re busy pointing out the defects in our sisters’ and brothers’ trunks, branches and leaves, we forget God is pruning us as well.

Have you been experiencing the discomfort of pruning or having your stakes removed, remember God is preparing us for our next season. We can’t go to our next carrying excess baggage. He loves us too much for that. A friend recently told that airport personnel had told informed her that her luggage was five pounds over the maximum fifty pounds. She would have to pay $100.00 for the extra five pounds. She immediately pulled out enough to meet the requirement. God does not want us to suffer the consequences of being over our weight limit. The cost may be more than we’re willing to bear.

John 15:8 declares, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

Pray with me: Father, help us to live with our hands open, trusting that you know what’s best because you are all-knowing, merciful and loving. We submit to your pruning and trust ourselves to your process of removing the stakes so that we can be strong and fruitful in our next season. Thank you for your faithfulness. Amen.

     Have you recently experienced any stakes being removed? How has God supported you in the process? Your example may be an encouragement to others. I would love to hear from some of you who regularly read my blog or those who may have “stumbled upon” this entry for the first time.