Monday, December 29, 2008

Get RID of it!

I am ready to do this very thing...I cant wait to start getting rid of the over-clutter. And, let me tell you that there is plenty of it!

Stay tuned for some De-Stressing Challenges for the week..we are gonna have a great 2009 full of DEStressing!

May the last few days of 2008 be great, and that you anticipate 2009 to be SOOO fine! :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Know Thyself

It is so true that we need to be aware of who we are, in order to effectively manage our stress. We do so much comparing with everyone around us, that we dont realize sometimes what we are thinking or feeling ourselves.

I started this quest for less stress, when I noticed the physical manifestation of my stress and didnt really know where it came from. Since then, I know better what my body does when it feels stressed. I know what it feels like in the beginnings of stress taking over my spirit. I have learned to see new things about myself all the time, so that I am able to adjust for my own needs.

It has made a huge difference in the tasks I take on, who I feel good saying "no" to, those I must say "no" to, when to take a break, and when I need to get to work. I have learned what circumstances make me feel overwhelmed or inadequate.

I have learned, from these observations, to manipulate my world into a place where I find less stress.


What does it mean?

Knowing yourself means that you are able to identify what is causing the stress, and what may be other underlying factors.

It also means that you push away unrealistic expectations of yourself, because you know your limits.

It means you ask for help when you need it.

It means you can identify when you are leaning towards being overwhelmed, or identify situtations before they happen which would be that way.

It means that you are aware of what your "order" looks like, so that when you get there you know it. And, when others cause you to question whether or not its order enough for you (I have dust, and it doesnt bother ..but it drives her crazy! should I be more stressed?!) .

It means that you know when to hold up the stop sign and call for a time out. And, you know what to do during your time out. Do you need to drink, eat, read, pray, order or plan? You know, if you know yourself.

It means that you know WHO causes you stress, and who helps you relieve it.

It means you know what peace, calm and stress feels like to you.


It means that all these things are what they are for YOU.

Not the girlfriend who is TOO stressed.

Not the one who never seems to be stressed.

Not the one who questions your lack of participation in outside activities.

Not the one who throws a fit because you couldnt take on that project.

Not the one criticizes the dust.

Not the one who tells you to relax.

Not the one who whines about your not having time for her.

Not the one who feels intimidated because your house is always straight.


Your stress, is yours. Your calm, is yours. Your peace, is yours.

Know who you are, so that you can plan appropriately. It will take some stress off :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stress Strategy: Get a New PLAN!

Sometimes, when we look around and find that what have been doing for awhile isnt working anymore. Maybe there was never a plan to begin with, or maybe its just that your family, schedule or priorities have changed over time.

I know that when I was child-free, by routines were much different. My home would get cluttered, but was easily gotten under control. When I cleaned, it stayed that way on the most part. The messes were mine, or my hubby's ..which were easy pick up and put away in their clearly designated home. My routines were simple, through and completely inefficient for a home with children in it.

When I had one child, I got stuff done during naptime. It stayed clean, if not only for naptime. I had one child's worth of clutter and stuff, and only one to follow after. His schedule was mine, and I worked around it. That routine was slightly more complicated, but worked well for the time period. It does not work for our current crazy home of playdates, two kids, a dog, a cat, a part-time working mommy, an extra bedroom or two, church responsibilties ..etc.

If I held myself to the standard of either of those previous women, I would fall dreadfully short.

Even since I have had two children, our schedule has changed and evolved as naps changed and disappeared. Our plans have changed as kids get older, can take on responsibilities or their needs change. Our plans need to change as the kids have their own out of the home activities, and those have to meld beautifully their siblings, fathers and everyone's physical needs.

Plans need to change.

So, if things are not working right now ...ask, is it the plan itself that is flawed?

I could be that the routines that you have always used, and have always worked, may need revamped!


A New Plan

A fellow SAHM friend of mine has come up with a great plan that I am working on initializing. She calls it her "Plan for World Domination" ..an excellent name, I think :) I know keeping my home in order feels like a task that large!

Here is a basic overview of her plan to get all the deep cleaning in her house done in about 2 weeks.

She suggests making a list of the tasks you would like to get done. My list may look like this..

* Living Room/Kitchen/Dining Room mopped
* Master bedroom vacuumed
* Master Bath scoured
* Guest bath scoured
* Boys room vacuumed
* Refrigerator cleaned out
* Ceiling fans dusted
* Living room dusted

Then, she says to assign a time period to achieve all these tasks, i.e., a week or two weeks.

Last, you break the tasks up where you spread them over the time period so that you can get an idea of how much you need to do every day, while still giving yourself a couple days off. Also, if you need to break some of these tasks up into a couple different sessions in order to get them done, thats okay. Her example is, if you hate vacuuming or dusting, only do half the living room dusting in one session instead of the whole thing.

So, you may have plan that looks like this:

Dust LR #1
Dust LR #2
Clean BR ceiling fans
Clean LR ceiling fans
Clean out fridge
Mop LR
Mop DR/Kitchen
Boys room vacuumed
Master BR vacuumed
Master bath scoured
Guest bath scoured

= 11 activities

Then, each day you pick the number of tasks you need to to get them all done in the period you decided on before. In my example, 11 tasks = 11 days, with a couple rest days in there somewhere for a total of a 14 day cycle.

I would add one more suggestion. I would suggest you use a timer, assigning a mental number to each activity so that it you have 15 minutes today, you would chose a 15 minute task. If you have a little more time, or less time..you can chose a different task. Then, pick a task, set a timer and go!

She likes this plan, because it is as flexible as her day is unpredictable. If you dont get to your daily task until the kids naptime, pick something other than vacuuming that day! Or, if the day doesnt allow for even a 15 minute task, then you still have some wiggle room.

This is a great plan ..flexible and less overwhelming when looking at all the stuff we have to do!

If this plan works, great! If not, then look for one that does :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Order!


We NEED it, dont we?

We desire it as the created of an ordered Creator ..true, we feel the need on different levels, to different extremes. But, I think we can safely say that we all have an innate need to feel that our lives are somewhat ordered.

I know I crave it.

I want to be ordered in my home, which makes me feel capable of achieving that same level of peaceful existence in different areas as well.

I had the most pleasant experience this past week of feeling somewhat like a celebrity when I went to spend some time with my sister, and had two people who I didnt know mention this blog (referred by my aforementioned sister ..thanks Lace!).

Those comments, and the ones I exchange with fellow moms on a daily basis makes me realize who important this order thing is to us.

We need it ...we crave it. We build our lives on it. We find peace in order, and find ourselves more focused with we can see through our nice clean lens of purpose and find affirmation of a job well done.

So, I am going to really work on some practical ideas and solutions. We will highlight some areas where we need to focus our efforts (cause lets face it, there are about a billion we COULD focus on), and those which apply to all of us ..not matter what the needs of our individual families may be.

So, please keep visiting and sharing ideas ..we need to help each other achieve this goal of order and peace from order in our lives! ..at least, the kind of peace we can find through order ..the Ultimate Peace is the foundation of all of it, and true peace can only be found there!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

DeStressor: Surround Yourself with Positive

It is a well known fact that those we spend the most time with,we are the most like.

As moms and wives who so desire that degree of order, accomplishment, purpose, completion, affirmation and peace in our home lives..we need to find those who are like-minded. We need to seek out those friends and sweet souls who encourage that focus on the those priorities ..and distract from added stress.

We certainly cannot eliminate all our connections who cause, rather than help ease, stress. Certainly not. But, the majority of our friend time and social energy CAN be determined to be with those who do so.

We need positive influences, and reminders who encourage us to see above the stress of this moment ..to the blessings that cause the stress, to that with is worthy of our energy, and those things that need to be pushed aside for their lack of worthiness.

There cannot be enough value placed on a friend, mom, sister, fellow mom or all of the above who is in the trenches with you..seeking to manage the chaos that come innately with this blessed life. When she is one who will cheer on your little victories, challenge your areas of weakness, and allow you to mourn your failures.. you have a true friend.

You will be, indeed, too blessed to be stressed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

DeStressor: Take the Day Off

Its not always feasible, of course.

But some days, when things work out that you can. Take the day off.

I mean, dont neglect the most important needs (everyone STILL needs to eat, take their naps, etc.) but some days the best thing you can do for you and for the kids..is to rest.

Stay in jammies, dont worry about the dishes, dont worry about the laundry, call off the playdate, and play.

Eat lunch on the floor with the kids.

Read with the kids, and dont worry about what is not getting done.

Dont get caught up in anything that you cant immediately respond to a request to play tag or hide n Seek (watch their little faces light up when you stop what you are doing and run after them!)

Go for a leasiurly walk, and talk about anything and everything they want to. Dont worry about getting home to vacuum (I would suggest getting dressed for that one ;)

We cant do that every day of course. We wouldnt take care of our homes the way we need to, if we dropped everything and played tag everyday. But sometimes, we all need it.

Today, I called and told my Mommy group I wasnt coming. The boys and I stayed in jammies for the morning, then went for a long walk to the playground. There, we walked around the pond and played pirates on the slide. We talked about being a leader, and Ty's dreams last night. We came home and had a "lunch time picnic" ..no TV, just talking.

It was what we all needed to do today.

Now, I am gonna go rest on the couch and read a book, while Ty plays on "pbskids DOT org" ..his words, not mine :)

Hope you can steal a quiet day soon ...its really good for you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Stressor ALERT: Comparing

Us girls are the WORST at this, arent we?

I know from personal experience that this one is a doozy.

How often do we compare ourselves to those around us, usually to those girls who seem to be doing SO much better then us? All the time.

And, it stresses us out.

It does me. On some level I know that they are probably stressed about their messy closets, dirty dishes, or their laundry being behind. But, usually it just seems like EVERYONE besides me has it SO much more together than I do.

Perhaps you are one of those gals who people look at and think, "she has it so together." Then you KNOW its true! The reason that I KNOW that people who seem to have it together, probably DONT..is because I have gotten that a couple times lately.

That made me laugh ...because if those people could see my house right now... :)

Thing is, is that we are naturally bent on comparing ourselves. We do it both to make ourselves feel better ("at least I'm not THAT bad..!") and to beat ourselves up. Neither are good ways to look at ourselves.

Our families are unique to us, and them. Their needs are specific to them. Our goals are different than the gal who seems to "have it together", and the our homes have different dynamics. We are us, and its okay

True that we need to make the effort to be the best we can be always. But the best we can do changes from day to day, and minute to minute. Sometimes the best we could do is all the laundry, unload the dishwasher, do the homework with the kids, prepare a weekly menu and plan the grocery shopping trip. Other days, putting away last weeks laundry is the only thing we can call anything close to an accomplishment for the day. Our best changes as the demands grow and change.

As I speak to myself, as well as anyone who may be willing to listen, I am reminded that we need to only compare ourselves to our own priorities, our own standards and guidelines for our home. We need only compare ourselves to the woman, mom and wife that God wants us to be ..not what we wish we were.

We wish were organized, clutter free, put together, well planned, frugal, energetic, healthy, and able to meet every need of those we love. God wants us to love Him, and the families He gave us. He wants to keep focused on what His job is for us today..which may have nothing to do with laundry.

So, just for today, dont compare yourself to anyone. Only look to the things you feel are the most important for this moment. Dont worry if that other gal made cupcakes, while folding towels, while clipping coupons, while updating her address book, while making herself beautiful, while reading her bible, and washing her baseboards. She probably tripped on the dog the second you looked away, and dropped all that stuff on her perfectly pressed clothes :)

A little encouragment ...

...goes a long way :)

After feeling like I didnt have a whole lot to offer anyone in this department the past few weeks, I got a sweet bit of encouragement from a sweet sister. I do have a few things I have been thinking about..Hope the next few posts are encouraging and energy GIVING! :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Call to Action ..Part 1

Okay, I will tell you on the forefront that this is kinna heavy but I am feeling really lead to share some thoughts I have been having lately.

Have you ever had a time when its like your eyes are opened and you see things that have always been there but you never say them before? It could be that you meet 5 people with the same experience, find multiple scriptures, hear 20 relatable songs, the Sunday morning sermon was exactly what you needed right then?

The Spirit is awesome, and He uses our moments of willingness to listen for whatever reason to share with us things that make our walk with God more meaningful, or bring to light something that could change our entire outlook on things.

God has done that for me lately, and while there is a sense of helplessness in the realization, I also feel so lead to share this so that Satan cannot lurk in the shadows of our ignorance any longer.

Over the past several weeks, my eyes have been widely opened to an area of weakness for the men in all of our lives. I have become aware of how lies that Satan has told has covered my eyes, and I believe a large majority of Christian women's eyes to the degree of power he can exert over them. And it makes me feel like a mama tiger ready to react!

The temptation of lust, and very specifically the action that can often come with it, pornography is a huge problem ..even, and especially for the Godly men in our lives.

Did you know that something like 85% of Christian men admit to this being a problem for them?

Lie #1 that Satan tells in this area...that Christian men dont struggle with this. That only "sickos" deal with this. That only "sex addicts" or men who cant control themselves participate in this.

Its a lie.

Now, let me be clear that mean NO disrespect to our men. I do not want to take away from the respect due the men in our lives, especially our husbands. But their very nature, Christian or not makes them very suseptible to Satans lies in this area.

God created them to be passionate. Sex is a symbol of the drive that is in them to make them want to provide for us, to pursue us, to create children with us, to love us. God made them that way.

And... every good thing that God creates, Satan can distort.

This God-created passion, this drive that our boys have leaves them vulnerable to attack. That coupled with the constant exposure to things that feed that desire (indeed, that is what it is..the sinful nature DESIRES it) for lust is a potentially spiritually fatal formula.

Relating to my reference earlier of how my eyes have been opened, I found out within a very short amount of time that there were several men in my life who struggled with this problem. These were men that I knew to be Godly men. They are Christian husbands, fathers, church leaders, teachers, deacons and elders in the church.They were friends and men I knew, loved and respected as fellow Christians. These are not "sickos" or people who you would think would struggle with this...if you think that it only happens to "certain kinds of men."

During that time I prayed that God open my eyes to see WHY is this such a huge problem? WHY is it SO powerful that it effects even these kinds of men? WHAT is it about this that is so compelling that I hear tears in wives voices as she describes how this problem has affected her family? HOW has Satan been allowed to become SO powerful that he can move into our homes, our churches and into the lives of the GODLY men around me?!

Girls...I was amazed at what I have realized the past few weeks. And I NEED you to know about it..because we MUST not allow our boys to be taken by Satan's lies in this area!

And he can.

Another lie that we have been told, that our boys hear from everywhere, that often even wives who are aware of their husbands activities tell themselves..is that it doesnt hurt anyone. That looking at pictures doesnt effect their minds long term. It is between themselves and the computer screen, thats all. That lust for someone other than their wife is NORMAL, acceptable and harmless.

With tears let me say, its not.

Uncontrolled lust is a very powerful tool for creating a rift (whether realized or not) between husbands and wives, potentially destroying families ...the cornerstone of God's plan for getting the most of us to heaven. It creates expectations that are unfair and unGodly for boys and men who arent married, as well as those who are. It sets up teenage boys and young men for selfish thinking, even before they come together with their wives for the first time. And most importantly, it creates a door for Satan to move around our homes.

The truth is is that our homes are protected by the God we serve. But, if the man of the house is bound by this problem, Satan is free to move about in ways we cannot even begin to know about.

Sisters, and sweet friends...please do not be blind to this area of weakness for our boys.

I dont want this to be so long that you dont want to read it, so I am gonna start another post.

Please keep reading, because the plan is still ahead of us.

Call to Action ...Part 2

So I prayed that God show me how this problem could be so prevalent!

And He has, He is so faithful.

First, I realized that our boys need NOT go far or even leave their seats to be attacked..not just tempted but openly ATTACKED by lust.

My husband and I went out to eat the other night, this was on my heart and God used it as an opportunity to show me something that I had never seen before. Or, at least not this clearly.

We walked in to the restaurant and put our name in. Immediately I noticed the hostess who was wearing a very short skirt. I checked out of the corner of my eye (he knows I am thinking on this topic) and look to see if Adrian noticed. Nothing. Good job hunny.

We sat down to wait, no kids so we were just sitting and watching people. I noticed this girl moving around, and walk in front of us. In front of my husband. She didnt just walk, she strutted by him. She was swingin' it, almost in a comical way (though I for one was not laughing). She must've walked in front of us 5 times in the 10 minutes we were sitting there. I did a corner of my eye check...still good boy.

We sat down at the table, after following Short Skirt Chic through the restaurant (I held on to Adrian so that in his effort to not look he didnt trip and fall ...he knows I am watching). Then, Short Shorts and Big Boobs with a Tight Shirt Waitress showed up. I looked around. Directly in his line of sight was, Chic With a Short Skirt Who Needs to Close Her Legs and Girl Who Needs to Button Her Shirt Up. Then, Other Hostess with a Short Skirt AND Exposed Cleavage walks by about 10 times.

Funny, but not (as a side note, I asked him later if he noticed all those girls, and admitted that yes he did, but he had made a conscious effort to avert his eyes. ..smart guy :)

Last night I was looking for a photo for my other blog, I typed in "house". I am not kidding you that on the third page in there was a half-naked girl in a school girls outfit staring at me. I typed in "priorities" ...first page, naked woman.

Seriously?

Girls, pornography is a step long the road to fulfilling a desire for lustful feelings and actions, but it starts long before then. They dont even have to go that far to be wounded by Satan's darts. They need not type any words into the search engine, turn on the Playboy channel, buy a magazine or go to a strip bar..its there, plain as day, black and white.

I have had my moments of feeling totally powerless against this fight for my men. I have had my moments when I have thought HOW can they fight it when its EVERYWHERE?

We cant forget, though, ever...that God is greater. He is more powerful. He is all powerful. He is stronger than any "natural" urge or desire ..no matter how strong.

So, what do we do about this?

First, LIGHT!

As I said before, having heard it alot of places lately, that this effects SO many of the men around us. But, because of Satan's lies we dont even know that He is working as effectively was he is. If we could really see, and be aware of all the men (and women..they are out there too) who struggle with this then Satans power would be greatly diminished! If we were suddenly aware of his plans, we would be blown away..then we would react!

Because of the lies that come with this sin, people often either think that men who struggle with this are "perverts" or that lust is just "part of being a man".

We need to, as the mothers, sisters, wives and friends of these Godly men who struggle with this, see this sin as separate from them. We need to not label them as "sex addicts" or other such things. They are vulnerable. Satan has found a weakness, and exploited it. Just like he does with us, everyday.

We need to bring to light this problem. And we need to start in our homes. As difficult as it is, because of the ramifications of the possibility of it being a problem, we must ask our men if it is a problem for them. We need to assume that whether they have moved to the point of action, or have resisted that but still allowed their mind to dwell on lustful things, or that they have resisted both entirely...that they are vulnerable.

We need to teach our baby boys that its not right to look at "girls in their panties." We need to teach them the concept of "guarding their eyes."

Do you know, that speaking honestly with some of my close friends about this that all of them were exposed to pornography at the age of 10-12? And all of them, were exposed through trusted Christian friends? They were exposed, and the rest was history.

We need to teach our boys before they are old enough to even fully understand, that we need to protect our eyes from things that God doesnt want us to look at. So that when they are exposed to this, they know immediately that its wrong. We need to train their hearts, as well as their eyes to resist those things.

We HAVE to talk about it, to our children AND our husbands.

We need to be aware of the battlefield that is all around us!

Girls, we have to realize that Satan WANTS to bind these men. For all our strengths, they are strongest in the areas that God created them to be. They cant be all that they need to be it they are bound by this sin. Our families cannot be what they need to be if our husbands are bound by this, or any sin.

So we have to be aware. We need to know what we are fighting, and our boys need to know that we are in the battle with them. They need to know that we are praying for them, and are aware of their struggles.

A section of scripture that has a whole new meaning for me, is in Ephesians 6.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." v. 11-12

Its true that the battle is theirs. This struggle is between them, and Satan. The boys dont answer to us. Though we, our marriages, our homes are affected by their sins we cannot be their motivation. They answer to God, and God alone. The battle they fight, they fight alone. They must fight when they are alone, out of town, on the computer, watching TV in the dark when we are in bed. Its their battle.

But our role is not insignificant.

"
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert..."

We cannot fight the battle. But we can lay out their clothes ..their belt of truth. We can help them strap their breastplate and hand them their shield. We can make sure their helmet is securely fastened. We can shout encouragement from the sidelines, and shout warnings when the enemy is sneaking up from behind them.

We can fight back to back with them for the minds of our children, working together to train our children to reject Satan's lies regarding lust.

Its not a lost battle. But one we can only win if we are aware that its going on.

I pray for your boys, grown or not. And please pray for mine.

Thanks girls, I needed to get that off my chest :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stressor Alert: Losing Focus

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 25:14

One thing that we can do to keep our stress level under control, is to keep our focus.

When we get our vision off, trying to juggle all the things that a "normal" mom, wife, friend, church member, etc is supposed to be ...we can be overwhelmed with all that is expected of us in all those areas.

Keeping perspective means that we push all the "stuff" aside and look at the bottom line..that our homes should be a place where God is taught and experienced, that we work together to get each other to heaven...leaving no one behind.

That means that sometimes the laundry can wait, the groceries will keep, the errands can be postponed and only the things that meet your goals for your home need to be tended to right now.

That can mean so many things. Whether to sit on the floor with your little boy and his trains, to go hide in the bedroom in the middle of the day with your hubby, to call a friend or take a moment to yourself.

Remember to keep perspective, it will help you let go of stresses that really arent worth their energy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thankfulness to Peace

While studying recently I stumbled across a little something that I find remarkable!

Read with me for a moment, paying close attention to the similarities in these verses...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is rightwhatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philipians 4:6-9

Again, Paul emphasizes,

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Our state of mind and our thankful heart has so much to do with whether we allow the peace of God take over our spirits.

Over and over again in the New Testament God connects thanksgiving with peace. Isnt that amazing? He knows us!

He knows that when we take the time to thank him, we will remember our blessings, and rest in the knowledge of His provision.

God is a smart fella.

If your anxiousness today feels overwhelming...stop and thank Him. Thank Him for the home you have to keep, the children who are healthy enough to make the messes, the husband who has committed to your partnership, the money to buy the groceries, the vehicle you have to do the errands you hate doing :)

"And the peace that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:6

A little something..

So, I got a little something in the mail today I thought I would share  :)

IMG_7716 (Medium) IMG_7713 (Medium)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More thoughts on the Spirit

All this thinking was started for me, by pondering the Spirit and Its/His work in our lives. I see the power living in us in a whole new way these past few months.

As I have talked about before, I believe that sometimes our "stress" can be linked to the Spirit's prompting. We feel a sense that things are unsettled, not comfortable, "not right" for one reason or another, and it could be the Spirit trying to lead us to pay closer attention to something or someone.

One thing that has really struck me the past couple of weeks, is how we as Christians are connected to each other. As Paul prays for his growing ministry of brethren, he says, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus." (Romans 15:5)

And he exhorts the Christians in Ephesus, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:2

I have been struck by a powerful realization that the Spirit, an element of GOD is living in me, and that same Spirit lives in my brothers and sisters in Christ..the same Spirit.

And, as this Spirit is part of God himself..He has the character of God. That, being all-knowing, all-seeing and all-hearing.

Now, my natural self is guided by my mind, my heart, and my emotions. I tend to follow the path of knowledge based choices when making a decision when to call a friend (when I know they are in pain, or struggling), or when to challenge a sister (when I know they being challenged by a sin). As humans we know how to think, plan and execute with our minds based on our knowledge.

However, God calls us to unity of Spirit. What has struck me, is that because the Spirit in me is the same as the Spirit in you, and because the Spirit is God and therefore knows all things, then when the Spirit feels something for another believer, it can be communicated to me through that same Spirit.

How often has a sister unexpectedly come to mind? When your MIND has no reason to THINK that there is a need for prayer. When you dont KNOW of any reason why you feel heavy hearted for a husband, friend or child ..yet you do.

How often have we talked ourselves out of anxiety related to someone? How often do you worry or fret for no apparent "reason" to do so?

Could it be that your unified Spirit is feeling those things, and because you are connected to them that way you feel what the Spirit feels?

It makes me rethink those times when my heart feels heavy for no discernible reason that my mind can come up with.

I am always so touched to ponder how God has set up this system of support between His children.

"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:4-6

Friday, August 15, 2008

Destress Emotions

How often does our stress come from the other emotions that we deal with on a regular basis? We feel so much, so often. Our happiness, sadness, worry and anxiety is most of the time more intense than our male counterparts.

As if thats not enough, we cant ever seem to get in a rhythm with our emotions!

Our emotions are effected by so many factors aside from the emotion triggers themselves. We have so many physical intricacies that cause us to see things totally different from one moment to another..no wonder we are mess much of the time! :)

It is so important to remember that we are unique beings..our bodies produce triggers for emotions that are apart from the situations themselves.

Part of destressing our emotions is being aware when our bodies are contributing more than our hearts are!

Next time you feel overwhelmed, easily irritable, "on the verge" ..consider some reasons besides the situation you are in for feeling the way you do:

* Are you dehydrated? ..water plays a HUGE role in your mental health!
* Are you hormonal? ..this needs no explanation, buts its a valid consideration
* Is your blood sugar low? ...have you eaten today? ...one of the first signs for a diabetic of their blood sugar being out of wack is their irritability!
* Are there underlying emotional causes? ..is the current emotion the REAL issue, or are you worried, anxious or concerned about something else entirely?
* Have you centered your day on God? ..feeling overwhelmed can be the Spirit's way of reminding you to focus on what is really important today!

And finally,

If you feel this way on a regular basis, despite these monitors..check with your physician and make sure there isnt a medical reason you feel so bad! I did this about a year ago, to find that I had hypothyroidism. Once I was on some medication, my world became more manageable!

We must control our emotions if we are going to control our stress, ours and everyone's around us! :)

Another quick thought...these are great ways to give an ounce of forgiveness to those around us who are being overly-emotional! We arent the only ones dealing with emotional stress!

STRESSOR ALERT: Clutter

Clutter effects all of us differently. It takes varying degrees of clutter to cause stress in our lives. Some of us may feel overwhelmed with a newspaper being on the floor, whereas another gal may be fine as long as there is a path through the room.

The truth is, though, is that eventually clutter adds stress to all of our lives!

We need a degree of order. I believe that God calls us to that. Look at His creation, where things are in perfect harmony and working systematically effecting everything around it (sing it with me..the CIRCLE of life!) . He calls for order in our worship. He calls for rules, regulations, guidelines. He uses clear cut instructions to the Jews in the Old Testament.

God likes order.

Because we are of His nature, a part of us craves this order.

Again, we feel this in varying degrees, but I believe in all of us lies a person desiring to have order in their lives.

Clutter is an outside evidence of a lack of order. It can take over our homes, stress our spirits, and be fuel for negative thinking when we allow it to.

Getting control of our clutter can be a major destressing activity! But, it can be a huge STRESSOR too if you let it get overwhelming!

Some tips,
  • Dont attack all of it at once! Pick a room, section of a room, closet, drawer..and do it a little at a time
  • USE THE TIMER! Set your timer for 10 or 15 minute increments. Its amazing what you can get done in a small amount of time with a little focus.
  • Use www.flylady.net ..she can help break it down and help you get control a little at a time
  • Be attentive to areas that are suseptible, and try to keep those places under control every day. Flylady calls them "Hot Spots". For me, its my bar, and having it decluttered everyday is a destressor for me!
There are so many kinds of clutter, and every one of them can benefit from our attention! So, destress your home this week by giving clutter its due!

Monday, August 11, 2008

DeStress: Mind

In our ladies bible class we are discussing Godly management of our minds. Its an interesting topic, and one that has really been on my mind. The whole topic can be based solely on the verse,

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philipians 4:8

This section of scripture has life-changing potential! I have always loved, and often pondered this verse. It wasnt until this week that I read further, and discovered a little gem I had not noticed before...at the end of verse 9..

".. And the God of peace will be with you."

Makes sense right?

If we were to focus on getting rid of the anxious, degrading, mumbling, negative, self-critical, suspicious thoughts that we have ..what peace of mind we would find!

Everything starts with your frame of mind.

If you participated in the exercise that began this "de-stress" quest, by paying close attention to the causes of stress, then you may already understand what I am saying. Just by taking the time, tuning my brain to pay attention to that one thing, my eyes were opened to a whole battle's worth of Satan's darts.

Once my mind was aware, it has changed every aspect of my life. Truly.

When you attend to your mind, keeping your focus and calling your thoughts to into account our hearts are close to follow.

So, this week pay close attention to where your mind goes. Measure it against the ruler of whether it is lovely, praiseworthy, noble, true, right, admirable, pure and excellent.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stressor ALERT: Perfectionism

I am not a perfectionist. I dont mind if things are perfect, though I do like them done well. I dont mind, letting good enough be good enough if it IS my good enough at the time. I can settle for things being less than perfect when working on a project or something. My drawers do not have to be in perfect order, my house is not spotless all the time, nor am I wrinkle-free at all times.

I do not push myself to the point of perfection most of the time. But, I do struggle from time to time with perfectionism in a different form. That is, if I cant do something 100% all the time, its not worth doing at all.

I struggle with at times, thinking, "I have already blown my diet today, so I will just eat this whatever." Or, "I already missed my chance to get three workouts in this week, so I will try again next week." Or, "I havent read my bible every day this year, I got behind so that is another year I failed at that!"

Can you relate? I sure can (of course, I wrote it.)

But I have noticed lately, that there are alot of things that I DONT do because I didnt do it all the way I wanted to. I use the fact that I failed before, to excuse me from making the effort right now. Its a destructive habit!

It prevents us from moving forward doing things we KNOW we should do, frozen by a sense of failure before we begin. We cant clean the WHOLE house right now, so why worry about any of it?! I cant catch up on ALL the laundry, so why put that one basket away? I have already had two pieces of cake, why stop now? There is no way I can get 8 glasses in today, so why drink this one right now?

In the effort to get rid of my excuses, I have working on paying attention to times I do this. I have found ALOT of them!

Also, I have been working doing it ANYWAYS! So what, if I cant take the time to clean the WHOLE bathroom right now? At least the toilet will be clean! I cant fold all the laundry, but I can I do what I can in 5 minutes.

By getting rid of this mentality that its all or nothing, we can actually find ourselves just a tad closer to our goals that when we started..if not all the way there yet.


So, this week practice being aware of those times when your desire for perfection gets in the way, and then work on that not keeping you from completing those tasks that make you feel like you are working toward a more simple life!

Above all, remember ...""My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

DeStress: Others

Something that has occured to me alot lately is that we have so much to do with OTHERS' stress levels.

We have mentioned our kids' and our hubbies stress, but beyond that we have so much that we can do over the stress of alot of people we come in contact with.

I have learned of myself recently that this is something I love doing. In fact, on the retrospect I realize that the reason I do SO many things is that I truly want to relieve stress in others. I want to take that tension from their chest, in so much as it depends on me.

As an RN in Critical Care, I especially love doing this for patients and their families. One of my favorite roles is to educate, inform and update. Why? Because information and attention to explaining relieves stress.

There are SO many ways that we can help to decrease the stress levels of those around us, be they friends, extended family members, the bagger at the grocery store, the customer service rep on the phone, the neighbor..etc.

Here are some thoughts ..


  • Prayers. This promise, and the follow through really does relieve stress for people. Its a reminder that they are being remembered to God himself. How is that for stress relief?

  • Cards/Emails. This is stress relieving for both parties I think. For me, it means that I have touched someone today. For them, they are reminded that they have touched someone enough to be remembered and thought of.

  • Touch. This done appropriately is a great stress reliever. Hugs, hand squeezes, shoulder pats ..again, reminders that they are not alone in their struggle.

  • Listening. Girls especially need to relieve their stress by talking! Being a good listener is a great way to be a stress-relieving friend :)

  • Controlling your emotions and your reactions. This is a big one for every relationship you have. When negative things happen, especially, your control of your reactions can go a long way to relieve another's stress. Have you seen relief on a persons face when they expect you be angry or negative and you respond with a gentle or positive answer? I love that feeling.

  • Sharing Scripture. God uses us to remind eachother of his promises. Remember to stay alert when a scripture brings a person to mind, it could be God asking you to share with them.

  • Example. I can relate to this one, as I have several people in my life who handle every day chaos with such grace. They relive my stress when I remember them, how they keep their priorities in line, they control their reactions, they stay positive and at peace...even though they dont have everything totally together :)

  • Service. Being willing to serve eachother is a big way to relieve stress for another person. Whether it be preparing a meal, keeping children so a weary mommy can get coffee alone, running errands for a shut-in, visiting someone in the hospital ..we can do so much for eachother that will take the burden of stress from them.

  • Forgiveness. I left this one for last, becuase I think its the hardest but one of the most important. Being able to give someone forgivenss is stress relieving for ALL involved. How much stress of yours is related to frustration over something someone has said or done? Your forgiveness gives you peace, and allows them peace as well.

A life full of peace cannot help but touch others with a sense of calm. I pray that you are seeking to do that. By decreasing our stress, we dont find peace..God is the only way to that. But, by our clearing our minds, spirits, bodies and hearts of stress we are more capable of being touched by the peace He brings us.


May you find many opportunities to decrease your stress level today, and make a difference in someone else's stress level as well :)


Friday, July 25, 2008

DeStress Finances: Coupons

Alot of destressing in any area is simply taking control of it. An effort to improve any area gives a degree of release of stress. It allows us to tell ourselves that we are doing something about it.

Because finances is an area that simply must be faced head-on, no passive acceptance in hopes of it getting better, then one must stay aware of ways to face it. One way to destress our finances, is by spending that resource the best way we can.

Coupons help me do that.

Yes, it can be tedious, but there is so much help out there for getting control of the coupons, where to find them, when to use them, which to use at which stores. There are is alot of help to guide you ..and lots of money to be saved.

Some places to go for help and to learn how to spend coupons well is Money Saving Mom , The Grocery Game and Coupon Mom websites.

Simply learning how to do it can help take some of the stress out of using coupons :)

I have learned to watch the ads for good deals. But to make those deals even better, I "stack" coupons and end up paying little or nothing for stuff. Once you learn how, its very satisfying feeling.

Also, check out CVS 101 on Money Saving Mom...she will teach you how to get good deals, earn CVS cash, spend that cash, and make more cash to spend on things you need..making staple toiletries, household goods, kid supplies inexpensive or even FREE.

This is a great way to DEstress our finances..good luck!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

DeStress Body: Energy

I am really benefitting from a focus on getting my body in shape!

I am working on my weight, in so much as I want it to be in a healthier range. I am using http://www.sparkpeople.com/ to help me with my nutrition. And, I am working on getting on a regular workout schedule. It has helped mentally, I can tell for sure. Its harder to eat the high cal stuff when you worked so hard to lose the calories from your hips!

I am really focusing on eating for energy ...which entails stopping when full, and foods that are natural energy makers. I am far from excellent at this area ..but it feels good to be heading in the right direction.

Its really a great motivator for me to remember that I need to use my physical energy effectively, and that includes to do what I need to do to create the right kinds of energy in my body.

My family, my purpose and my passions all benefit from this effort..its worth it for all of us!

Friday, July 18, 2008

DeStress: Finances

Did you know, that financial stresses are cited as a top deal breaker for divorced couples? Its at the top of the list for stress-causers in the US, and that most likely is not a shocker to most of us!
Stress comes inherently with dealing with finances. But it doesnt have to be that way.

The stress strategies employs for this area are easy: get CONTROL of it! Get it DONE! Get a new PLAN! Get a new PERSPECTIVE!, Get OVER it, ! Get RID of it!, Give it to GOD ..all of them apply!

I can absolutely promise you, 100% satisfaction guaranteed, that if you get control of this area of your life your stress level WILL decrease overall. No question. I know, because this is a huge area of focus for our family, and our marriage. Huge.

Managing your finances is a way of life. Living in financial peace is a process that is ongoing and oh, so rewarding. Not only for your pocketbook, but for your marriage (because true financial peace MUST be a two-person job inside a marriage) and your children. Think of the gift you will be giving your family when they learn right NOW that ...

We must get control of our budgets, pennies, debt and future in finances.

We must get it done ..meaning we have to follow through with that budget, we must live the life necessary to maintain a debt-free, financially peaceful life.

We must get rid and get over DEBT!

We must get a new plan for dealing with our finances on a daily basis. If you dont control your money, it WILL control you!

We must get a new perspective when it comes to how we see debt, saving, and financial freedom.

And lastly, but most importantly, we need to give everything we have to God ..it was His to start with. We are managers of the plentiful resources he gave us!

As I am sure you are well aware, our system of choice is Dave Ramsey's, Financial Peace. Because of this system we are truly living in financial peace. It doesnt mean that we have a ridiculous amount of money, but that what we have we have learned to manage it well.

If finances are causing you stress, then focus on that ...destressing THAT will help your overall level by incredible amounts!

If Mama Aint Happy...

You know the rest! If Mama aint happy, aint NOBODY happy. How true.

Its really true that as managers, overseers, project directors, etc of our homes we set the tone for the day. I know when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, things are bad all the way around. When I am out of sorts, or generally am not in the "mood" for this mom-deal today, things are rough!

How we deal with our stress and how we feel has huge implications for our family, because its up to us to set the mood of the family. Its a big job.

Remember the girlfriend, or someone else in your life who is stressed out to the max. Does being with that person make you feel at peace? Or does it make you feel stressed yourself?

When you are stressed it does not only effect you! As a mother, wife, manager, contact with those outside your home, christian example to others, mother example to other moms..people are affected by your stress, and how you handle it.

It makes this whole effort to destress ourselves an important focus. Its not only for our own sake, but for that of the kids, hubby and those around us. Our being in control of our stress and reactions gives everything a better chance of working out better.

It doesnt mean that choas will not happen ..hardly! But what it means that when it happens we are calm in the center of the storm. We need to be the ones that they look to for focus, redirecting, and control.

To do this we must, get control of our stress and control our reactions to stress.

Getting control of our stress is about making the effort be ordered (to the degree that it decreases and not creates stress), to be willing to eliminate things in our homes/schedules/relationships that create undue stress, and most importantly getting centered yourself!

We know that the Author of Peace is God Himself. Without Him we have no peace, and so it has to start with our being plugged into Him. Dont forget that. Its about Him to start with!

Also, we need to control our reactions to the stresses that are inevidible. Remember that you CHOOSE your reaction to those feelings that you have no control over. You may not be able to control if you feel a way, but you CAN control how you react to it.

When the stress level has gotten away from you, you MUST focus and determine that you will not allow it to take over your tongue, your actions, your reactions to those in your path.

You dont want to leave a path of destruction, unrest and hurt in your wake. That is easy to do with our scope of influence ..so be careful.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Destress Home: The Kids Stuff!

This is one of the areas I have really attacked in attempts to destress my home BECAUSE the kids stuff takes over EVERY room of our house! Not only do we have the kids bedroom, which usually looks like a hurricane hit it, we also have toys baskets in the hall and living room. I dont have one in my bedroom, but I should as it would make it easier to clean up the 1000000 toys I find in my bed at night!

Their stuff takes over. And, it creates stresses. There is the stress of HAVING the mess to start with. Then, the stress of the clutter brings. THEN, its the stress of them having to put it away and the fight that goes with it(the hollering, the tears, the wasted time, the discipline..etc.). Dont forget the stress that you feel when you realize there is no better place for this MESS than piled in baskets all over, and even when its picked up its still a mess. Dont even THINK about the number of small, broken, lost peices of every game you have ever owned that are piled in corners and under beds.

Also, dont forget how all of those things create stress for the husband, and the kids themselves. Its something.

This is an easy, if not minorly time consuming task..but we CAN destress the Kids Stuff!

So, lets dicuss and develop a plan!

One HUGE thing that we have done, and are due to do again (we need to do it about every 6 months), is seriously decluttering the kids toys. Its nuts the stuff they collect. I dont know where it all comes from but they have alot of stuff.

A periodic and almost brutal overhaul of the inventory is very good for all involved. First consider the decrease in stuff! Its less to put away, less to get out, less to see and pick from, less is less stress!

* Have them chose 3-5 toys they love. And then get rid of the rest! I know it sounds brutal. But trust me on this one. Consider too, that if you have more than one kid, each kid with 5 toys is quite a few toys that can be shared.

* Make sure that everything they keep has a place. Whether it be a bin, a toy box, a shelf. Make sure they know where it goes. This will make pick up much easier!

* Put games and toys with lots of peices away out of reach. This has helped us alot! I have a closet with these types of games in it. Ty has to have permission, and can only have one of these toys out at a time. Those toys are put away at the end of the day, pieces missing or not. I usually find those peices quickly (within a day or two), and just put them in the closet with the game. Less time out of the closet, easier to find peices!

* Get rid of the toy box! I know. It sounds crazy. But a toy box is a bottomless pit for toys. Stuff gets lost, broken and hidden in there. The only way to find stuff is empty it out right? If everyone choses a few toys or types of toys (we kept all our cars, and trains), and those have an easy to get to place to put away (bins under the bed), then you dont need a toy box.

What about them once they are banished from the house? ..the toys I mean, not the kids.

Here are some ideas:

* Donate all the little McD's toys to the church bag. Or, even better, make church bags for the other kids at church. Hang a few in the toddler classroom to be used during church services. These are also great "car" toys.

* Use it as a lesson on giving to children who dont have any toys. If your kids are able to understand, take the toys cerimoniously to Goodwill, or somewhere like it. If its too traumatic, do it while they are sleeping! :)

* Teach them money management with the toys they get rid of, garage sales, ebay..these are great lessons on responsiblity and use of their resources.


Combine these things, with the ideas for decreasing the amount of clothes they have access to for the laundry's sake, you can actually have a pretty good end result with a little work.

Less is more. Less stress, more peace!

Stress Strategies: Get RID of it, Get it DONE, Get CONTROL of it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stress Strategy: Get RID of it!

I orginally posted this on my other blog. It fits well here, so I thought I would repost it.

----
I have really put this one into action lately. It can be HUGELY destressing!

Stuff has a tendency to multiply in my house. I have all kinds of excuses why not to get rid of things, until I attach them in my mind to some level of stress.

This is another one I have to attribute to FlyLady. She is big on getting rid of clutter and does lots of little exercises and reminders to encourage you to do it. The concept also shows up in most of the "simplify your life" books and articles.

I have always found such liberation in letting go of stuff. Even more so since I added this extra drive to get rid of ANYTHING that adds stress to, instead of adding VALUE or convenience to my life.


Some rules I go by:

* if you dont LOVE it, or NEED it..then get rid of it!

This applies to every area of your home from closets, kids closets, kids toys, living room furniture, kitchen gadgets, clothes in closet, organizing aids in the house, to backyard toys and smelly good stuff in the bathroom.

My sisters and I have been applying this to our kids rooms with some serious DeSTRESSING effects. Less is better. You love what you have more if you get rid of the stuff you dont love or need.

* If you have lots of something..then get rid of some of it!

Looking around the house you can find LOTS of areas to apply this. Its amazing how things collect and you buy when you have some of it already because you have so much you can see what you have!

Get HONEST about whether you need so many of of a thing..you may be surprised what your answer may be!

Some examples from my own house towels, sheets, cookie sheets, cleaners, shampoo/conditioner bottles, clothes (especially kids clothes..they dont need 12 pairs of jeans! Less, means less to wash!), silverware (everything but forks..ha!), plastic cups, first aid supplies, kids books, shoes, old food in the pantry...lots of places!

* If you cant remember WHY something is sentimental..then get rid of it.

How often do we hold on to stuff because so-and-so gave it to us? Obviously there are exceptions to this rule. Generally, if someone spent time making something or they have alot of attachment to my having it, I hold onto it. But, I couldnt tell you most if any of the gifts I have given to anyone in the last 5 years ...so if I gave you something, and its causing you stress..GET RID OF IT!

* If its broken or doesnt work..GET RID OF IT!

Adrian and I often disagree in this area. He wants to put it aside to fix it later. Some stuff we do that with, but I have gotten to the point that if I didnt LOVE it or USE it in the first place, it gets trashed.

*If you havent worn it, used it, or played with it in the last 6 months...GET RID OF IT!

This is a GREAT rule. I use it ALL the time. I use it especially in my closet and my kitchen. These are two areas where things seem to multiply unfettered.

* If you feel bad about throwing it away..GIVE IT AWAY

I have found that there are some things that I dont want any more, but that I cant just throw away. Its much easier for me to pass it on to someone who could use it (less guilt).

While most of the stuff goes to Goodwill, I have started using a few different avenues of distribution including Childrens Orchard (get paid for toys, kids clothes, etc.), Kidney Foundation (furniture, they will pick up!), Church library or nursery (books and toys..duh), friends who I think will love it, to friends who are doing garage sales (I have a NO garage sale rule myself..THOSE really stress me out!).

Oh, a word about garage sales. Flylady has a no garage sale rule. I kinna thought that was odd at first, but it makes sense. First, they stress me out completely. I hate the pricing, the setting it up, the sitting there, the bartering, the clean up..all of it.

Then, she says that we often use them as an excuse for just moving our junk from one part of the house to another. I have to agree with that.

Now, I love GOING to them ..with an idea of what I want, and I dont bring anything home I dont LOVE or need.

So, I know I wont convert you all over to that way of thinking, but just thought I would pass that on :)

When I am in my "get rid of it" zone I can take multiple trips to Goodwill/Childrens Orchard a week. It SOOOO freeing!

Okay ..think of some stuff that stresses you out and go get rid of it!
Just wanted to pass on this link that my mom sent me. Its great for some organizational tips that you use to destress your life! :)

http://www.organizedmom.net

Enjoy! I sure have!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Stress Relief

peaceful

  A tip for relieving stress in the moment of a "stress crisis" try deep breathing.

I took this from an article from SparkPeople.com:

"Deep breathing, an easy and convenient way to relax, it is the core of many other relaxation techniques. You can practice deep breathing anywhere. Simply take ten deep breaths, lifting your chest to fill your lungs completely and then exhaling all the way. Each breath will relax your body a little bit more and you will feel the tension seep out of your muscles"

"And peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Its not about ME

Too much is made of the effect that things have on "me". Our society screams self-gratification, self-focus, self-indulgence, self-motivation, self self self. It creates such an impure view of the world, and our role in it.

Nature is so expressive of this truth. God's creation is so obviously not about one individual living thing over another, but how each one thing effects the whole.

Its not about an individual ant, but about his role in colony. Its not about one bee, but his part of the hive. Its not about one flower, but all the flowers that one flower pollunates. Its not about this rain storm, but how it effects the wind 1000 miles away. Everything God created effects something or someone else.

We, like the flowers, animals, bees, and winds are not in bubbles. We arent set apart from the influences, or from influencing others.

Its not about an individual mother, but how her care and home-making effects those in her charge. How THEY go out and, because of her roles, effects others and builds their own "christian factory".

Its not about the soldier, but the cause and his country.

Thats why God allows bad things to happen - because what is bad to one, may be a blessing to others. One bad thing may make all the difference in the bigger scheme of things.

We can get really self-focused and wrongly see God's work in our lives if we think that everything He does is for US. Its not.

Its for His glory.

He blesses, gives, takes, and comforts and provides so that we may be able to glorify HIM.

He gives us bodies, energy, finances, resources so that we have what we need to glorify HIM; to fulfill our part of plan...to bring as many to heaven as possible.

So, we must manage our homes, bodies, time, finances, resources so that we fulfill that purpose. Its a big deal.

Its not about you, its about Him and His plan which we are so blessed to be part of.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

DeStress Home: Laundry

As you well know, laundry is my NEMSIS.

I hate it. It causes lots of stress for me :) Not only is it endless, but there are so many steps that its easy to get behind on one and then the whole shaky system falls apart!

I have been working on this area of stress, and want to pass on some tips AND encourage you to share yours!

I have found that like a friend said, "its like going potty, you have to do it everyday" ..so true.

I have four people I am washing clothes for, two of which are messy little boys who love dirt and water, and who dont always have mastery over their bodily functions. This makes it seem as if I am washing clothes for 10 people.

If I let one day go by, I have a mountain to deal with.

So, I am working on dealing only with hills.

* I have gotten rid of all my hampers. Everything goes into one central laundry basket IN the laundry room. I take the dirty clothes there every nite, and in the morning. That way I can keep up with exactly how much I actually have to do.

*I have gotten rid of all but two laundry baskets. One problem I had was filling up baskets, and keep doing that until I had none left THEN put them all away. Now, I have one for mine and hubby's room, and one for the boys room.

*I fold straight out of the dryer. No more taking the laundry to the living room for it to pile up and up and up. No more marathon folding sessions. Just a 5 minute fold at the dryer, and a 3 minute put away session immediately after that.

* I use my timer - set it for 15 minutes, fold, switch and put away in that amount of time twice aday and you are caught up.

The key is staying on top of it ..oh, that and trying to limit what goes INTO the laundry.

Some other ideas,

*Consider cycling outfits through for older kids. Giving them 5 outfits to chose from for two weeks or so, then shifting to a couple more. Less choices, easier upkeep, less tendency toward them changing 4 times a day. For younger kids, give them a shelve or rack they can reach. Their 5 outfits can be hung together, giving them choices which they love!

*Assigning towels to each family member, and them using them 3-4 days in a row. If they are properly hung after a shower or bath, they will not mildew easily. Use name tags on towels, racks, rods, or hooks. Kids love stuff with their name on it, and it makes for one load or so a week, instead of every day!

*Do a COLD load and a WARM load every day. Leave the whites, or bleaches for every few days or once a week. I just keep those in the laundry hamper in the laundry room, and they collect over the week.

*Hang as much as you can, or have room for. Hanging is way easier than folding! I have started hanging ALL shirts, and foldling only pants and pj's. If certain pants go with certain shirts they go on teh hanger with the shirt, and its all together. This cuts down on space needed to store folded clothes also. A basket or box set on a closet shelf at childs level can even eliminate the need for sock and undie drawers.


Laundry is a huge task, but we cant GET RID of it, or GET OVER IT. We can only GET IT DONE, and GET IT UNDER CONTROL!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

2 for 1 Deal

Isnt it great when you can get a BOGO deal at the grocery store? It meakes you feel like you have somehow beat the system and hold the trophy for master shopper?

I love that feeling.

I get that feeling when I can meet two needs in my home, with one job also.

For example, when you are vacuuming and the kids like to get in the way. Vacuuming is a job you need to do in the home, but the kids are beggin for attention too? Then, for us the vacuum becomes a "shark" and the couch becomes the "ship" and we are playing AND getting the floor cleaned!

Or, when you are cleaning the bathroom, and the kids are right there underfoot. Give them a sponge each, put them IN the tub and assign them a wall. A little colored water in a spray bottle will keep them busy for long enough to get the other stuff done AND you got points for both!

How about when you are waiting at the doctors office, or auto repair shop and you have busy hands and feet everywhere. Go, sit on the curb outside and count the cars going by, or play "I Spy" in the waiting room.

Take time the next few days and see when you can create memories, AND get the other stuff done. Remember, the memories are most important, but its nice when you can combine both!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Destress: Home

So much of my stress starts at home. I know that I am not the only one whose mood and attitude are determined by her surroundings. Chaos in my home breeds chaos of mind, spirit and body.

Destressing our homes is a long process. Certainly, it cant be dealt with in one post (or at least not one any of us would want to sit and read :) but we can attack it alittle at a time.

First, I have become aware during the study by Elizabeth Green (Life Management for Busy Women) how important it is to LOVE our homes. Just like the Proverbs 31 woman who set about with active passion to building her home, we need to be passionate about our homes.

Our homes are the launching pad for our very important work for the God we serve. Its the base for our fundatmental teachings our children will leave home with. Its the haven they, he and we will return to for rest. Its an active school for teaching and learning vital lessons of God's love and His truth.

Its an important place.

Its takes work and passion to maintain and develop it into something more than four walls. It is not a passive process, but an active one where you as the "Home Manager" are constantly aware of what the residents' needs are, and how they are met. Its a place which is worth the stress and energy to make a haven of peace for your family.

So, we first must realize who important our homes are. And, how important it is that our homes are a place of peace, and not a generator of stress for those who belong there.

A home at peace breeds less stress for everyone involved, breeding a better enviroment for learning and teaching of those therin.

So, where do we start?
First, I would suggest that you ponder for a moment what about your home as whole breeds choas, or lack of peace.
Is it the clutter?
Is it the noise level?
Is it the lack of being there? Or being there too much?
Is it not asthetically appealing to you?
Is it lonely?
Too overwhelming of tasks to be done?
Is it boring?
Is it a reminder of other stresses?
Are there conflictual relationships?
We cant make a plan until we understand the source of stress itself.

Some of these cant be fixed with a simple anecdote or list of strategies. Some of them need careful attention and prayer to improve. Some of these need a prayer of change of perspective, change of heart, or renewed passion.

I will pray that you, dear friend, are able to find the direction you need to find your way through those stresses.


Some of them, though, can be attacked from a tactile angle. Our strategies will work for some of the reasons that we have stress in our home. We will work on finding those solutions the next days and weeks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stress Strategies: Get it DONE!

It occurs to me today, as I am tackling some of my own Stress List, that simply doing SOMETHING about "it" is relieving of stress!

One big stressor for me is my weight - which I dont want to be a big stressor. I want to be happy with my body, the way God meant it to be. I realize though, that while I do need to be happy with the way God made me, He also wants me to take care of this resource He gave me.

So, I am DOing something about my weight, because its not as healthy as it needs to be. I am DOING it for the sake of stewardship of my body. I am DOING it because God would want that. While I am going to weigh, as a sign of my progress, I have determined that I shall not be slave to its number.

So, pick something off your SL and DO IT! Or, at least begin the process. Just being able to say that you are moving in the direction of decreasing that stress, can be a destressor!

And, a thought for today,

"The Lord gives strength to His people. The Lord blesses His people with peace." Psalms 29:11

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Remember to Rest Today

peacefulrest (Medium)

Its supposed to be a day of rest..so dont forget to rest today.
Remember to rest in the knowledge that God is in control, and that He has BIG plans for you!

May your day be blessed :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

DeStress: Your Body

DeStressing our bodies has to do with preparing our bodies for the stress that comes with the full lives we are blessed with, as well as taking unnecessary stress away.

We have talked in length about how stress takes our physical energy, and that its so important to get control of it because God uses our physical energy to fulfill our spiritual purpose!

The way we feel physically has much to do with how we feel otherwise. Ask anyone struggling with chronic illnesses, or constant pain - it effects everything. When we feel exhausted, painful, hungry, or dehydrated we feel mentally wearied as well. It makes us susceptible to being easily overwhelmed by smaller stresses, and less likely to manage larger stresses well.

So, we need to do what we can to get our bodies in the condition to take on energy, and spend it on the things we need to (in so much as it depends on us).

Some things that are required by our bodies to produce the most abundant and healthiest energy, are
  • REST! ..never underestimate the need for sleep and quiet rest
  • Eating right. ..I know, you want to roll your eyes, but its true. This is one of the most important ways to gaining the right kind of energy
  • Exercising. I know, again, but its important!
  • Taking vitamins.
  • Regular Checkups ...not only for you, but for the family that depends on you!
  • WATER WATER WATER ...we all need at least 64 oz a day.
  • Avoiding things that sap our energy like too much sugar or caffine
Doing all this keeps our natural energy levels up, and our weight down (an extra bonus!) but most importantly, it gets us in the frame of mind to face the stresses that are sure to come.

Let me go into a couple of these a little further. I think we all know alot about the right food, and the right type of exercise to make part of our lives. That information is easily accessible, so I would encourage you to do that.

One thing I think isnt talked about enough is the need for proper rest!

So, lets talk about it.

Sleep is a very important way that our body restores itself from the stresses of the day on our organs, skin, heart, lungs, brain and immune system. Is role is profound, and often not fully understood.

Some of the benefits of sleep are immune system restoration, mentally organize stimulation from the day, weight control, hormonal balance, stress tolerance, organs/tissue repair, memory retention, and improved concentration (just to name a few).

Some of the effects of lack of sleep, and proper rest are decreased efficiency of the immune system, weight gain or inability to lose weight, increased craving for carbs/calories, increased risk for breast cancer, impaired glucose metabolism, increased risk for heart disease, increased risk for depression, increased hormonal imbalance, increased risk for GI problems, decreased skin health, increased risk for anxiety disorders, decreased emotional tolerance, and decreased alertness which increases risk for injury for yourself or those in your care.

These arent all the problems associated with lack a sleep, but they are a good enough list to get us realizing now important it is to rest!

Rest doesnt alway mean sleep - as we well, know, often being a mom means lack of sleep and the few hours we get are often interrupted by our family's needs.

Rest may mean just a decrease of stimulation. A shut door for 15 minutes when daddy gets home, or a quiet bath when the kids to go bed. Rest is a precious commodity, but one very important to keeping our bodies healthy, and able to manage all the jobs we have to manage.


Finally, dont forget that part of taking care of all of them means taking care of you too.

We cant possibly take care of them the way they deserve if we are exhausted, overwhelmed, malnourished or unhealthy (again, within our control).

So, consider this when you make your schedule. Allow for quiet, rest time. I know its seems like craziness to consider, but if you make it something that is important to you, it will happen.

Stress Strategies: get control of it, get it done, get a new plan, get a new perspective

DeStress Time: Schedule

This is a really big area that we can start with to decrease our overall stress level.

Its an easy one to assess by looking at your calendar or, if you are one of those who dont write anything down, thinking about where you have been. Either way, you can determine where you are most of the time.

First, are you home or gone?

Are you one who likes to go, go, go?! Or are you a homebody? Are you someone who hates sitting still? Or one who craves quiet moments?

There is nothing wrong with either of these, as long as you are still fulfilling your purpose while you are there. And, that you are meeting the physical (healthy eating, rest, ordered environment), spiritual, and emotional (security, comfort) needs of those you are responsible for.

I believe the second part of that does require some at home, "be" home time. But, the amount changes for everyone, and is different for every individual in the family.

Here is another thought. Not only can you consider your needs and preferences when it comes to staying or going, but also those of those you are given the task to nurture.

By this I mean, if you are a "goer", but your husband or children (one or all) are not, then you have to consider a balance so that all involved get what they need.

Its one of those "unfair" things...but like I say, it the way it is :)

Also, if you are a "homebody" and you would be fine never leaving the house, but the husband or kids really need that interaction with the outside world, then you have to be available to do that too.

Its about recognizing yours, and your families needs and doing what it takes to meet those needs.

Now, when it comes to looking at your schedule and determining what activities are appropriate and which activities may need to be reconsidered, its about your priorities again.

Time and energy are resources, like we keep talking about. You have to use both toward your purpose, and priorities. If something doesnt fit in there, or by doing something you are neglecting your first priorities then it needs to be reconsidered.

Remember also, something I have heard and pondered often. There are alot of good things to do, but not all are the best to spend your time on.

We can feel bad about not doing everything you are asked to do at church, or with others. Thing is, there will ALWAYS be those things to do, these babies wont always be here. Your job with them is the most important, and its only right here, right now.

If you have issues with telling people no, or feel pulled by things that arent part of your list of priorities and are unable to let them go...I would suggest reading, Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This book, and its study have given me alot of insight into how to say no, and how to do it without feeling guilty :)

Some tips related to your schedule:
  • Use your Stress List and your Priority List to help you determine which things on your list need to be managed first.
  • Assign them a time of day (by noon, by dinnertime), day of the week, or a general time to get them done by
  • Try to clump your "out of the house" things together, and those to a time of day that fits your families needs the best (home by the time daddy gets home, the toddlers naptime, nothing on certain days of the week, etc.)
  • Look at your calendar, and eliminate whatever you dont love, things that cause "unworthy" stress, things that keep you from your priorities.
  • Be HONEST - it may be something that you enjoy, but you know it takes away from your focus. It may be something the kids enjoy, but if its not the best for them, then it may need to be eliminated.
  • Dont worry about what others think ..its easier said than done, I know. But so important. So often we do things not because its best for us, but because we just cant say no or we are afraid of what others with think if we arent involved with such and such.
Above all, remember your purpose ..its the most important thing on your plate right now!

Stress Strategies to apply: get rid of it, get it done, get control of it, get a new perspective, get a new plan

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In your STRESS Do Not Sin

The thing about stress, is that it never stays just that "I dont like this" feeling. It doesnt stop at not feeling comfortable with a given situation.

Stress is a building block for so many other things that are more destructive feelings, which is where the sin lies.

How many times have you said, or been the victim of someone who says hurtful or does hurtful things then says "I was just really stressed out"?

What about the times that you yell at your children, talk hurtfully to your husband, feel bitter toward a task God gave you to do, are paralyzed into inaction by your feeling overwhelmed. Stress simply opens us up to other feelings that can lead us to a sinful place.

Take for example my favorite example of a lack of forks :). Every night at dinner the husband gets frustrated because he cant find a fork, that leads to his expressing his frustration, which leads me to being frustrated that I cant ever remember to buy any, making me ask the question "why cant I pull it together?", which leads to me feeling negative towards myself ..inadequate, and overwhelmed with ALL the things like that need doing in the house!

Or, when you open your closet and its full of clothes that dont fit. You get frustrated that they dont fit, you feel fat and out of control ....you all know where that one leads.

Stress left unchecked can lead to a whole range of negative emotions, which can lead to a whole list of possible sinful actions towards the people we love, and the God we serve.

So, just buy the forks, get rid of the grown clothes, get control of the laundry, just GO to the gym, get over what so-and-so said, ..it stops stress before it starts in those areas. That eliminates the possibility that that stress will cause you to stumble the next time!

And always remember, to "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" I Peter 5:8

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Energy Worthy or Not?

We have been looking at the Proverbs 31 Woman in our Ladies Bible Class ...that lady had some energy!

Though I am sure she didnt do ALL that stuff in one day, she still got alot of stuff accomplished! She had vineyards to maintain, bread to bake, servant girls to manage (I wish I had servant girls to order), cloth to weave, children to take care of well enough for them to call her blessed, a husband whose needs she met, land to sell ...the chic was BUsy.

She had to have had alot of energy, cause she didnt just do it, she did it well.

This is really where all this destressing stuff started for me...realizing that God both gives me energy, and requires I use it toward the purpose he assigned. THAT means that I have some serious budgeting to do!

I am first reminded that I do HAVE at one point what I need to fulfill my purpose, because He said so, "God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work" II Corinthians 9:8

If I dont feel like I have an abundance of anything for my "good work", whether it be money, time ,or energy then I have to ask what happened to what God gave me? How have I mismanaged it so that I dont have any left?

I really believe, and am becoming more and more convinced every day, that stress is a huge part of what takes my energy. Thus, this effort to get rid of it!

Now, we know that we cant live a stressFREE life. The fact that we live a full life with family, husband, children, homes, and healthy (or not) bodies means that we have stress. Its part of life.

And, since we know that life means stress and stress takes energy, we have to determine for ourselves what stress is acceptable, and what stress isnt.

What things in our life are "worth" using our God-given energy for? What things are worth the stress that come with them? What stresses are acceptable (if not also somewhat manageable) because they fit into our purpose? THOSE are the things that are worth the energy and worth the stress that comes with them. Everything else, is not.

So, we determine what those things are.

How?

Simply, determine what your priorities are. Keep them where you can see them. Line up everything you have to do, everything on your Stress List, and make sure you are putting your energy where it needs to be.

Practically speaking,
  • List your priorities (five wasnt enough for me, so I have listed my top 7 priorities)
  • Put them in a visible place (i.e., the first thing you see when you grab your Stress Less Journal)
  • Use it to determine which things you will do first, second, third and not at all

Being a good mom, wife, daughter, friend, sister, and Christian requires energy; especially to do it well. Make sure that when your energy runs out, it was spent in the right place, in the right way.

Stress takes energy, but if the stress is due to the fact that you are trying to do what your purpose requires then its WORTHY stress, WORTHY energy.

Even still, we should be aware of how we are using it. We need to budget our energy like we do any other resource. Just like our money and time, we need to make sure we are spending our energy the best way possible.

So, we continue this quest to be good stewards of these precious resources...thanks for stickin with me!

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