Tag Archives: stress

Stress got you down?

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If I asked you to close your eyes and envision yourself in a serene and relaxing environment, where would your thoughts take you? Do your picture yourself nestled in the soft sand at a beach? Are you surrounded by majestic mountains or resting by a serene lake? Most of us imagine ourselves in a scenic natural setting. Stressful environments are man-made—but in nature, we see evidence of our Creator and it fills us with awe and gives us peace.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Our Maker formed us from the earth and created a lush garden setting to live in. That was the life we were designed for. It’s who we really are. Only our disobedience or denial of truth takes us away from the beauty of what we were meant to be.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:7-8

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? Job 12:7-9

Playing outdoors takes us back to the innocence of our childhood and from that perspective we can see our beautiful world with all the wonder of a small child. When we grow world-weary, when our faith grows stale and our patience wears thin we have only to seek out the beauty of our natural surroundings to find peace and get in touch with our loving God.

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies! Psalm 8:2 (TLB)

How can you enjoy the beauty and peace of nature today?

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No Worries, No Fear

I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Under is such an appropriate word to go before stress. It is like being buried alive (but I’m the one with a shovel in the dirt). It is shouldering an unnecessary weight and trying to carry it with my own limited strength. Every aspect of my life screams for attention. Or so I think. I allow myself to be so driven by the squeaky wheels, perfectionism, my workaholic tendencies and self-imposed timeline.  How easily I fall into this trap time and time again. And then I read:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain … In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat.” (Psalm 127:1-2)

Ouch. That’s me. That’s a workaholic. Toil and trouble. I can brew up a bubbling cauldron of it, operating on my will instead of God’s. Only the call of Jesus will make walking on water possible. But like da Vinci, I am trying to construct floating shoes. Toil isn’t just working hard—it’s long, strenuous, fatiguing labor. What is the appeal? I ask myself repeatedly. 

Living in faith instead of fear is a daily challenge for me. In my heart I know that I am a lily of the field (Matthew 6:25-34)—loved and cared for without the need to toil, but in practice I can find myself wilting. In bouts of stubborness, I’ll allow myself get to the point of utter desperation before I confess that I am not in control.

Will my husband survive another round of layoffs? Will my anxious son pass the test?  How long can my father survive leukemia? How will I survive the change coming my way? All I have to do is let go. I can cast all my anxieties on my heavenly father because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). The plan is not mine. I do not need to try to operate on my own strength. When at last I let go, I feel his presence. He was there all along. The struggle wasn’t necessary. I find rest. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6) 

I pause to listen, and hear anew—the innocence in my son’s incessant chatter, the music of my life, the still small voice, my inspiration.