Ok, so even though I'm not usually one to shake things up, I'm going to give it a shot during this much awaited blog hop for week three of my Stressed-Less Living online Bible study. This week, instead of only going through the blog hop topics I'm going to go through the review questions at the end of Chapter 3 as well. Here we go...
(By the way...have I mentioned how incredible awesome and fulfilling these online Bible studies are? They have absolutely changed my life and made my relationship with God bloom and grow! Thank you, God for opening up this door and leading me down your awesome path for my life!)
Stressed-Less Review and Blog Hop Combo:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. ~ Isaiah 30:15b (NIV)
I love this verse. Sitting outside in the sunlight on a breezy day
My life does tend to get pretty stressful, especially when I lose control of my overall perception of the way things are going. One of my biggest flaws is constantly putting myself under a mental ticking time-clock and making to-do list after to-do list. Actually, the time-clock and the lists aren't the true problem. The problem lies in my negative thoughts that scream "you failed again!" when I don't meet my own personal deadlines. Like many others, I am my own worst critic.
There are a few things I like to do that bring me peace. Spending personal time with God and with His word through Bible study or devotional reading is a big stress buster for me because I'm usually don't allow myself to think about any other outside distractions, and God is a big helper with this because He knows how I easily I get distracted. I also like to listen to music and sing my heart out like there is no tomorrow. I'm a registered nurse by trade, so at the end of a long and sometimes frustrating work day, singing out loud with my favorite Christian bands really takes that layer of stress off so that when I get home, frustration and negativity are generally left down the road. I have a new found stress-reliever in my life that I've picked up within the last few months. It is probably difficult to believe, especially if you've ever seen any of the related television shows, but I love couponing. It is so relaxing to me to organize my truckloads of coupons, make my lists, and then go to the chosen stores by myself to get my bargains. I just walk up and down the isles, taking my time, and finding my deals. Since I've gotten my family pretty well stocked with 6 or so months of supplies, I recently have started couponing for toiletry and cleaning items to be donated to our church for our monthly give-away to the communities in our very rural county. At the end of the month, I gather up all my expired coupons and ship them to "Troop-ons", a program that distributes expired coupons to American troops and their families to be used for 6 more months. I love it! It is such a stress relief to do something I love to help people I don't even really know. Chillin' out with my girlfriends, my husband, or with my Caroline (daughter) minus any sort of agenda are also fantastic stress-busters, not to mention awesome blessings.
The above mentioned stress-relief practices are just a few that I do, and will continue to do until they don't seem to work anymore. Hopefully, that won't happen! However, as we all know, with the good often comes the bad. I do have a few bad, unhealthy ways that I relieve my stress. As a mom, a nurse, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and an "Aunt G", I am surrounded by people all day long. My life's work, personally and professionally, revolves around helping others, which is not just a tremendous blessing, but also what I feel is the reason God created me. I get joy out of helping others. But it is also necessary to spend time by myself daily in order to maintain my sanity. In order to do this, like many women I'm sure, I have to be the first one up and the last one down meaning I have to wake up early and go to bed late. This is not my most healthy decision because I only get about 5 or 6 hours of sleep when I know my body has always required more. When it gets really bad, my lack of rest often leads to bad moods, bad words, and making poor diet and exercise choices. Not good, I know. All of those combined make very poor choices that accumulate the stress instead of busting it.
I've been working with my healthy lifestyles coach and friend at work, and I set a goal for myself. The goal is that even though my head may not be hitting the pillow at 10pm, the to-do part of today needs to be bookmarked until tomorrow. At this time, I turn things off, grab my book, and head to bed. I haven't been doing well with that this week, but today is a brand new day, and I'm asking God to help me keep working on this goal so that I can take care of myself and continue taking care of others. Achieving this goal only becomes possible when I ask my husband for help, whether it be by doing the dishes, making the coffee, putting clothes away, or packing the baby-sitter bag for the next day, he does whatever I ask him to do. I just have to remember to ask! He also makes my lunch occasionally, and tucks in little love note surprises. Love him!
Hope From Upstream
Parenting...wow. If you don't already have some stress heaped onto you, this is a way to get it. Parenting is the greatest blessing I've ever known, but it is also something I greatly underestimated. My daughter is only 3 years old, and since she hasn't learned the famous phrase, "But my friends all get to do it! Why can't I?" we haven't had too much of an issue. Together, my husband and I started instilling a strong Christian influence in her from the start. Literally. I always read to her when I was pregnant, and many times, children's Bible stories were what I read. We pray together as a family, and have taught her that God takes care of us and makes us all better. She is now getting to the age where she is starting to understand it when she sees a sick loved one become well. We've also taught her that attending church regularly is a priority, but that hasn't been difficult. She loves her church family. Some of her best friends are eighty year old men. As my husband and I learned as a young couple in church, and are teaching Caroline, is that there is much to be learned from the older population in your church.
The few challenges we've run into as parents of toddler are teaching her that while church can be a place for laughter and fun, there is also a time when reverence should be practiced, as in services, lessons, and prayers. We rarely take her to the nursery because we want her to learn the type of behavior that is expected during a Sunday service, and we figured she can only learn that when she actually sits through the services. Does she sit attentively and take notes on the sermons? Of course not. But she does quiet activities, such as coloring or reading, and knows she isn't supposed to be noisy. Our family and friends support us, but sometimes it can be difficult when Caroline sees her friends conversing and playing loudly with one another, as they are allowed. I've watched her stare at them, wanting to play as well. But quickly turns her attention back to her book or coloring page because she knows what she is allowed to do and what she is not. Now she is not perfect, and neither are we. She does occasionally misbehave and we occasionally get frazzled and frustrated because of it. Expecting a three year old to be quiet and well behaved through an entire church service can be unrealistic. But we are consistent in what we teach her, and sometimes, I feel like other parents look at us like we are rigid and snotty. It doesn't make us smile, but it doesn't change our minds either. The same goes with the type of entertainment we allow her to be influenced by. She isn't allowed to watch movies or tv shows that are scary, violent, etc. Over a year ago, we decided what we allow her to listen to is just as important. She listens to Christian and children's music, and she loves it! One of her favorite songs is "Amazing Grace." She sings it around the house all the time. There will reach a point, not too far from now, when we can't control the positive and negative influences she is exposed to, but she will. Hopefully, because of the foundation God has helped us to instill in her, she will make the right ones. Sitting back and watching it will undoubtedly lead to yet another stressful milestone in the lives of her loving, yet anxious parents! May God be with us!
I've decided to create a blessings blog since God has taken this year to teach me what His true blessings really are. The site is under construction, but will be up and running soon and I hope you enjoy it and will share some of your own blessings! Stay tuned!