Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 31: Live by Faith, Not Fear

Live By Faith, Not Fear - The Cozy Nook

Well, I made it! It’s the last day of the “31 Days” writing challenge. I appreciate everyone who supported me this month – through your “likes”, your comments, your shares, and your encouraging words. Thank you!

This was a journey of becoming less stressed, and I hope you were able to do that! Fortunately, my continual writing didn’t stress me out too much. ~wink~

To end this series, I am going to address something very integral and foundational in our lives, something that forces us to address the very core of our beings and decide whether we will choose to live by faith or by fear…

This summer I was presented with various situations where I was experiencing a lot of stress.

In one situation I was looking for a volunteer teacher to help with our girls’ classes at church. I had asked eight women before I got a “yes” and in the process had another position open up. That process drained me, and I allowed it to cause stress in my heart. I was living by fear, not faith. I was worried that I wouldn’t find anyone to fill the spots. I was worried that I would have to shut down the program. I was worried about a lot of things. My mind and emotions went a bit crazy.

Rather than trusting that God would
take care of things, no matter what,
I was focusing on all of the if’s, and’s, or but’s.

In another situation I was presented with some challenges with my health. I was experiencing a lot of physical symptoms and forced myself to get a check-up. My new cardiologist wanted me to get a stress echo test. I didn’t feel good before I got there. I was unable to finish the test because I nearly passed out and my heart rate skyrocketed.

Both at the stress echo test and my follow-up visit with the cardiologist (and in-between), I felt a lot of anxiety. I felt inadequate, weak, unsure of the present and the future, and taxed.

Once again fear filled my heart.

God prompted me one day about these and other situations in my life and caused me to realize how much I was living by fear rather than faith. I had a choice to make.

Was I going to let fear rule my heart or FAITH?

When we are confronted with stressful situations in our lives, we choose how we will respond. We can respond with uncertainty and emotionalism or we can respond by turning to God and trusting that He is control of our lives.

Are you living by fear or faith?

Only you can make the choice.

This choice is very crucial because it really affects our attitude towards dealing with stress in general.

If we live by fear, we will be paralyzed and hesitant to push forward and make the changes we need to make.

If we live by faith,
our actions are fueled by confidence and hope.

I pray you will choose to live by faith. I pray that you will ask God to help you with the stress that you carry and ask Him to give you the strength to alter how your life is going.

As you continue your journey in this fallen world, I pray that you will do whatever it takes to fight against stress in your life. It robs us of abundant life!

May the Lord richly bless you!

Take Action: Surrender your anxiety to God. Ask Him to help you. Drive out the fear that resides in your heart by stirring up your faith in the living God!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 30: Prayer and Praise

Prayer and Praise - The Cozy Nook 

Prayer and Praise are two of our most important weapons against stress,
yet two of the most neglected.

If you’re honest with yourself, you will probably admit to that – at least most of us can. When it comes to dealing with stress, we might think about getting away from it all, getting some peace and quiet, and being able to do something that is enjoyable. It is easy to *think* about praying and submitting situations to God. It is easy to *think* we should be praising God in the midst of trouble. However, it is hard to put these two into action sometimes.

If we can learn to turn to these wonderful
tools that God gave us,
we will experience much more peace and joy.
 

The book of Philippians gives us an awesome promise!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6

According to this verse, we ought not to be stressed about anything. Instead, we ought to offer our anxieties up to God, leave them there, and have the sweet peace of God guard our hearts and minds.

That sounds great; doesn’t it?

It does sound great, but like I said, we must practice it to experience it… praying, submitting, giving thanks, and allowing God to permeate our beings so we might live lives of peace.

Are you praying? Are you praising?

Let’s make it our goal to FILL
our days with prayer and praise.

When anxiety and worry come, let’s take out our weapons and use them. Let’s pray. Let’s sing. Let’s praise God. Let’s change our perspective and think about the God who loves us tremendously and desires GOOD things for us.

Take Action: When stress comes, try not to focus on your stress. Place your focus on God and put it into action through prayer and praise.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 29: Make Time for Friendship and Fellowship

Friendship and Fellowship - The Cozy Nook

Friendship and fellowship are integral parts of our lives, parts of our lives that need to be kept well-maintained.

If we want to battle stress,
we need the support of others.

We need friends to come alongside of us and run this race called “life” with us. Life is tough! We need encouragement, advice, wisdom, love, and strength from others to keep us going strong!

Friendships are the glue of life. God intends us to live life with other people. We are meant to live in community. When we feel alone or weak, life feels a lot more stressful. It isn’t fun to feel destitute.

Friendships encourage our hearts
and help lift our loads.

Not only do our friendships help us to feel supported, they also provide an avenue where we can bless others. When we look outside ourselves and pour into other people’s lives, we are blessed. We are living with a greater purpose, outside of our own lives. Blessings others feels good!

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 11:25

We live in a dark world. I am continually grieved by all that happens on the earth and the way our society is going. Hearing the news, reading articles, and seeing others’ struggles can be very disheartening.

In order to flourish we must pursue fellowship!

We must be an active part of a community that shares the same sacred values we do. Spending time with people who love God and His ways encourages our hearts as we continue to press forward in a very imperfect world that awaits redemption!

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 11:24-25

Sometimes when we are stressed, it is easy to draw back and become a bit more focused on ourselves. However, that is really the opposite of what we need. Isolating ourselves will only increase our stress, as we substantiate our feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and disappointment.

Take Action: Make some time for friendship and fellowship this week! If no one is initiating with you, be the initiator! Ask a friend out for coffee. Invite a family over for fellowship. Call someone. Do something that will strengthen your ties with people.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 28: Spend Less, Stay Within Your Budget

Spend Less, Stay Within Your Budget - The Cozy Nook

It’s never fun to be in debt.
It’s never fun to feel like your spending is out of control.
It’s never fun to feel the weight of bad choices.

Our financial decisions affect our peace a lot. When we are struggling financially it wears on us. In life there are a lot of financial demands, but we can do our best to stay within our means. In the end we will feel less stressed.

Staying out of debt on a regular basis
promotes mental and emotional peace.

Daily we make choices that can make or break the bank. It may feel good when we are spending the money, but buyer’s remorse sometimes settles in all too quickly, and we realize the effect of our actions.

Living in the black ink helps us feel secure and more in control. We feel we are able to handle life because we have a reserve.

We need God’s grace and wisdom to help us make choices each day that will carry us from paycheck to paycheck with more finesse.

Spending less and staying within your budget really boils down to the various financial decisions,
big and small, you make each day.

What can you do to help your financial situation, baby step by baby step, that will provide you with more peace?

Take Action: Be conscious of the financial decisions you are making today. Remember that your ultimate goal is to live more financially secure so you can be less stressed and more refreshed!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 27: Plan Meals

Plan Meals - The Cozy Nook

It’s 3:00 p.m—What are you making for dinner?

It’s grocery shopping day—Do you know what food you will be serving for the next week?

It’s a full and busy day today—What are you feeding your family?

For me, unplanned meals = STRESS.

I can not adequately plan for the needs of my household without thinking, in advance, about the food I will prepare for my family.

Planning meals helps us avoid unnecessary stress as we are able to buy the food we need and keep better focus during the day without feeling the last-minute stress of, “What am I going to feed my family?”

If you feel stressed when you go grocery shopping and stressed as you try to provide meals for your family, I would highly suggest you try planning your meals. I believe you will see it is of great value!

I always plan a week’s meals before I go grocery shopping. I look at what I have on hand already, browse the sales flyer at the store, and also consider what the family is interested in eating. Planning the week’s meals helps me make sure I have everything on hand when I am ready to cook and try to avoid extra shopping trips throughout the week.

I also try to plan the day’s meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) either the night before or in the morning and write them on our whiteboard. This way the family knows what I will be serving for the day and prevents the kids from adding extra stress by asking me (several times a day!), “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

I really don’t think you can go wrong by planning meals. It provides a little more
order to our very full lives!

Take Action: Before you go grocery shopping this week, try to plan your meals in advance. If you aren’t used to planning a day’s meals in advance, try it, and try to post it somewhere where everyone can see!

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 26: Create Routines.

Create Routines - The Cozy Nook

Routines make a world of difference in our lives. Without them, life can be haphazard as we forge our way throughout the day without focus and a plan for our vision.

Spending time on creating and tweaking your daily routines is well worth your time and energy!

You can avoid the stress of living “by the seat of your pants” by using routines to guide you through more peace and productivity.

As I have mentioned before,

Routines are special.
They provide stability and focus – a spine for the day.

Routines are as simple as wake time, meal times, and bed times. These things happen every day around the same time. When we know what to expect, we know how to act and aren’t caught off guard.

You can plan routines according to:

  • the time of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, hourly…
  • tasks: chores, projects, hotspot cleanup…
  • major responsibilities: homeschooling, church service, work…

Think about things you do repetitively,
throughout the day or week,
and flesh out routines for them.

“You save time and energy and reduce stress by skipping the mental to-ing and fro-ing of making a decision, and slide directly into getting the task done. Instead of creating each day from scratch, routines create a framework of small decisions you no longer have to make—so you have more time to devote to things that matter.”
Source: Better Health Mag.

Recently I posted about my morning and evening routines and also my general homeschool routine. I hope you find them helpful.

Take action: Work on creating or tweaking one routine this week. Think of where you need help the most.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 Days to Becoming Less Stressed, More Refreshed. Day 25: Live Life with Margin

Live Life with Margin - The Cozy Nook

Richard A. Swenson, M.D. wrote a book about Margin, entitled just that, Margin. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. I read it years ago, and frankly I think it’s time for me to read it again.

The back cover says this:

Overload is not having time to finish the book you are reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of our time. Margin is the cure. Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.

Can you relate? Do you find yourself living in the “overload” category or in the “margin” category?

If you are stressed, there’s a good chance you find yourself lining up with “overload”. You’re fatigued, rushed, anxious, and depleted. That’s not how we should be living our lives!

We need to live with more margin.

We need room to breathe!

Heidi St. John talks about “white space” in her books, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance.

She defines it as, “a few days in a row of unscheduled time” and says, “If you don’t have at least two days in a row of white space every week, it’s time to make some changes”.

I don’t know about you, but when I read that I think, “Wow, that sounds more like vacation!”

It’s extremely hard for me to have even one day of white space, where I don’t have anything scheduled. Let’s face the facts... For us, Monday through Friday equals homeschooling plus other activities. Saturday is a day of work and sometimes social opportunity, and Sunday is the Lord’s day, when we are at church half the day.

I do admire Heidi St. John’s vision, though, and think she’s onto something good. We DO need white space in our lives - time when we can just be and live somewhat casually and peacefully, even if we are working during that time.

White space helps us appreciate the blessings of life and helps us undo the fight or flight,
rush-around, fast pace of living.

Do you have margin in your life?
Are you filling up every moment with tasks and scheduled activities?
Do you have time just to breathe and enjoy your family?
Do you have time to do something spontaneously with your kids, just for fun?
Are you rushing here and there with little to give?

May God help us create better margin for our lives!

Take Action: Evaluate your life and see what you can do to create more margin. Can you cross something off your “To Do” list for today or for the week?

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