Tag Archives: stress

2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

I remember watching an actress being interviewed, and she told a story of how her dad said that when life felt like it was too much, to go stand on the beach and look up and around, and she would see how small she and all the issues of her life really are. I imagined this woman, who had had success and fortune and a measure of pull, feeling overwhelmed, and that she needed to know somewhere in her soul that she was small. That she was held.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

 

The issues in life sometimes feel consuming, pressing in from all sides, stealing peace, stealing rest, and I am reminded that the enemy prowls crouched to pounce–a thief to steal, kill and destroy. But my God is sovereign. When I feel defeated, he reminds me of his victory. When I feel weak and powerless, he will be my power and strength. When I trust in him, I will find new strength to soar, to run, to walk and not faint.

Lord, I feel your loving hand upon my face, turning my gaze to focus again and again on you. When I look too long at my problems, they get bigger. But when I remember who you are, things fall back into perspective. You created everything I see. You hold all time. You know my troubles. You know my heart. It is so good to know you and to be known by you. Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10-11; Titus 1

In the New Testament, Paul shows the contrast in example (elders versus rebellious people)–because people are watching. He appoints Titus to select elders in each town.

An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. An elder is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. Titus 1:6-8, NLT (emphasis mine)

Because there are other influencers who are turning whole families away from God.

10 For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. 11 They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. Titus 1:10-11, NLT. (emphasis mine)

Circumcision isn’t a qualifier for salvation in my circles, but I do know people who imply that service, perfection, charity, etc. are markers of salvation. I feel cautious about sharing my bad-day feelings with them, feel pressure to push myself to serve/host/give sometimes at the cost of peace in my home (or in myself). In recent weeks, I’ve tried to balance so many things that when a child’s health problem (and lifestyle changing diagnosis) got put on top, I found I was dropping pieces–distracted, forgetful, stressed, overwhelmed, grouchy.

I kind of need a reset.

I look into an elder’s role, an example, and I see the starting block of faith/belief. So, I’ll start there.

Lord, you know the things that have been pulling me into so many directions they’re pulling me apart. Lord, I give you my heart and my life, because it’s safe (loved, precious) in your hands. Thank you for being able to handle my bad-day feelings and for giving me peace (especially when I dropped it all). Please speak into my life about discipline and wisdom. Thank you for putting so many people into my life to be an example and encouragement through this change.

Courtney (66book365)

 

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1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; 1 Timothy 6

I admit reading of Solomon’s riches and feasts and wisdom left me longing. But then two things:

When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honor to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 1 Kings 10:1, NLT.

And, regarding his many wives–especially those the Lord said not to marry because they’d turn his heart away from God:

And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. 1 Kings 11:2b, NLT.

1. His fame brought honor to the Lord.

2. And even a man so wise could go down a wrong path.

I’ve been overwhelmed to a crashing point when all the responsibilities I thought I could carry (and somehow balance) fell down around me after weeks of a child’s health issue got heaped on top. I’ve felt the pressure, too, to have a good attitude while this is going on–but at the end of every day, I’m acutely aware of my failure.

Every day: failure.

It has brought me low, for sure, and I find myself asking: Who am I in the midst of chaos? And who do I want to be?

So, reading of Solomon’s wealth and parties and abundance, at first glance, didn’t help me much where I am under a variety of pressures. But 1 Timothy 6 did.

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For,

At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

20 Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. 21 Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. 1 Timothy 6:11-21, NLT.

Pursue. Fight. Hold tightly. Guard.

Lord, today my trust is in you. Thank you for your word, your strength and your provision. Thank you for loving me, especially on my worst days.

Courtney (66books365)

(I did go back and read the Old Testament scriptures more thoroughly and appreciated the pairing of Solomon’s wealth with the New Testament reminder of true riches. Sadly, Solomon’s wealth and wisdom didn’t prevent him from making choices that led him away from God. Paul’s instructions to Timothy were exactly the reminder I needed of who I am–a woman of God–and what to pursue. I can easily be distracted by the demands in my life and judge my success/failure by my ability to perform, but Paul reminds to pursue a godly life [as in God-focused life, not a flawless life as I sometimes dupe myself into thinking]. I look to God for the strength and provision to get through this and get done what needs to be done. He carries me, and always has.)

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Ezekiel 4-6; Hebrews 10:1-23

God wants a relationship.

“They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols.” Ezekiel 6:9b, NLT.

He will go to great lengths to have this relationship.

If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.
    But you have given me a body to offer.
You were not pleased with burnt offerings
    or other offerings for sin.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—
    as is written about me in the Scriptures.'” Hebrews 10:2-7, NLT.

When he makes a promise, he keeps it.

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23, NLT.

When he says I’m forgiven, I am.

18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. Hebrews 10:18, NLT.

This is my Father God. My Father who pursues me, desires relationship, and loves with a love that won’t end.

Holidays are hard. In the face of feeling unwanted, unseen, unloved, unforgiven, I remind myself of truth–the very opposite of those wounds is healing truth that I am wanted, seen, loved and forgiven. And this is reason for giving thanks–thanksgiving every day.

Courtney (66books365)

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Numbers 7; Mark 4:21-41

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:37-40

More often than I’d like to admit, when in the midst of a crisis my faith wanes. Like the disciples, I become fearful, overwhelmed, and full of anxiety. I begin to feel hopeless. I know in the deep recesses of my brain that Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me, but I can’t always see the calm through the storm. I begin believing the lies of the enemy more than I trust Christ in me. It breaks in over me and negative circumstances fill up my boat like water. I feel like I might drown in the turmoil of the squall; I wonder how I will survive.

My current storm is one I think most mothers (and fathers) experience: the chaotic, all-consuming task of parenting small children while juggling life. I am stress out and exhausted, physically and emotionally.

On top of that, I am struggling with finding ways to keep my children occupied so that I can manage my house, and struggling to keep the to-do list small enough so I can focus on my kids. I am fraught with the frustrations of conquering one task only to find three more tasks have taken its place. I am still shocked at how quickly the girls can demolish a room – laundry I spent the morning folding but didn’t have a chance to get put away strewn across the bedroom , toys littering the play room floor, yet another wall covered in crayon mural (how did she get the crayons off the top shelf anyway!?)…Not to mention the fighting, the biting, the temper tantrums at full blast on and off all day long, the bed time resistance, the climbing all over mommy…Mommy…MOMMY!

This storm frequently feels like more than I can handle. It seems too big and some days, I am slow to remember that God is with me in the boat. I try to manage things by myself, but I am quickly overcome. I don’t feel peace. I don’t experience joy. I struggle to stay afloat. I am terrified. I am anxious. I am angry. I am impatient. I lose control and yell. “Mean mommy” rears her ugly head, producing fear and confusion, and in turn, my behavior becomes a storm for my children.

At times, when I finally do ask Jesus for help, I ask out of fear – “Don’t you care that I am overwhelmed by this storm? Don’t you care that I am afraid of drowning in it? Don’t you see I need help?”

Of course He cares. Of course He sees. He calms the storm and I am given a (temporary) breather.

However, I am learning that when I ask Him for help out of a place of faith, even when I am afraid, the storm is calmed and peace is restored in my home, and also in in my heart. He protects me. He gives me strength. He gives me wisdom. He shows me the best path to take. His love casts out my fear and I am able to lay my head in the cushion of His shoulder and rest, though other storms may come.

 Yesappa, I know you’re always there. Thank You for being with me in the midst of the storms I experience in life. Thank You for casting out fear and replacing anxiety with peace that surpasses understanding. Help me hold onto faith even when I am feeling overwhelmed. Help me trust You in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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1 Samuel 5,6; Romans 5; Jeremiah 43; Psalm 19

There’s nothing like a hearty measure of pressure to bring out my bad side. As the pressure increased, so did my impatience and irritation. I’m thankful that I was able to identify the source and realize the target–it stopped me in my tracks, but still, tracks were made. I had apologies to make. Then I sat in a room to gather my thoughts for twenty minutes. (And I might have cried.)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3 NLT.

Sometimes life’s demands leave me feeling empty, wondering if I will be replenished.

How can I run on empty?

I took the afternoon off to refuel–sitting under a walnut tree on a picnic blanket to eat lunch with my kids. The cool temps and the clear blue sky hinted at fall.

I can’t always stop the earth’s spin to take a picnic break, and so I thought on what I need to do to prepare for the next leg of the race.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
    It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
    and follows its course to the other end.
    Nothing can hide from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6 NLT

My words and actions declare a message too. This is a recurring refrain for me.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NLT

Dear Jesus, I think I’m going to be sticking as close to you as I can this year. Let me rejoice as I run. Thank you for grace.

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalm 93-95; Philippians 4

I’ve heard it said that the part of the newspaper you read first says a lot about your personality.  For example, if you go straight for the obituaries, you tend to have more stress in your life.  But if you go to the comics first, you tend to have more laughter in your life.  Honestly, I don’t know if there’s any truth to it or what the “experts” would say about those who just read the paper for the coupons.

 

The point of today’s reading has nothing to do with newspapers and everything to do with your focus.  In Psalms 94 and 95, Moses talks about how his focus shaped his anxiety level.  “When anxiety was great within me, your [comfort] brought joy to my soul,” (Psalm 94:19).  “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care,” (Psalm 95:6-7).

 

Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content,” (Philippians 4:12).  He didn’t say he was born with it, but rather that he learned it, that he had to work to retrain his focus.  Many times over the course of our lives, we are going to have hard times when our anxiety will be great: in financial struggles, in marital struggles, in struggles with our kids, etc.  In these times of anxiety, where will you train your focus?

 

Father, I thank you for all the times you have delivered me out of my anxiety and into your joy.  You hold me in your hands and keep me close to your heart, promising to never let me go.  I pray that I would always remember that, no matter the circumstances.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

HeatherPotts5

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