Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Remembering our responsibilities....

There is a made-up word that has become really popular: “adulting”.  You’ve probably heard of it?   It’s mostly used by teens and young adults, but you’ll see the occasional “seasoned” adult using it to.  

What is it?  

Well, according to “urban dictionary”, which by the way is my least favorite source to quote,  it’s , “to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.”  

There is that word “responsibilities”!  Don’t we all want to run away from them sometimes?  Perhaps, that’s why vacations are so necessary and appealing.  They give us a brief “reprieve” from those daily “responsibilities” of being a productive member of society.

And though maybe at some later date I’ll tackle that whole concept of “adulting”, today is not that day.  Today, rather than focusing on the shirking of responsibility, let’s look at what might be considered the opposite.  And really, this is “actually” what could be behind the whole “adulting” phenomenon.  Hmm…think about it!

If you remember back to our video, #10 on our list of ways to cast your cares on him, is to “remember your responsibilities.”  Do you enjoy responsibilities or dread them?  What are your responsibilities?  Who are you responsible to and for, and for how long?  

Stop for a second and make a list.  Whatever age, or stage you are in life you have things you are responsible for.  Just list the top, maybe what you feel are the most important few.  Think of it like “my job is to _____________ Go ahead…we’ll wait.  Don’t worry about the order, just jot a few down.  It doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list.

Now, here’s a glimpse at mine. (which also isn’t in order or exhaustive…)

Think about the things you most often “worry” about.  Maybe it’s running late, running out of money, a lack of healing, choices a friend/husband/offspring is/are making, an unexpected bill, a missed deadline, making a mistake, disappointing someone and on and on….  Do any of those “worries” actually relate to YOUR responsibilities?  Maybe some do, but often we worry about responsibilities that aren’t even are own.  

We’re worried our aging parent won’t go to the dr. when they need to, our young child won’t do his chores and have to face unpleasant consequences, the cancer will come back, our loved one will get fired or won’t find a job.  It can go on and on.  We can’t control outcomes, especially when they aren’t even our responsibilities in the first place.  We certainly can offer advice, pray and show concern, help out where we can, but we can’t take these situations on our own shoulders.

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”  Matthew 6:30 ESV

We are of SO much worth to God and He tells us it comes down to FAITH.  Do we trust him to care for us?

In verse 34 it goes on to say…

Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 

It’s so difficult, but we don’t know what tomorrow brings.  Worrying about tomorrow for things that may or may not happen will do nothing for us.  

So, what’s the alternative?  Look back to our original theme, “Casting all your cares on HIM, because he cares for you”.  (emphasis mine, 1 Peter 5:7 ESV)

Are you willing to HAVE FAITH and CAST THOSE CARES on HIM because HE does care for you?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Coping with Stress

This last week I've had a chance to practice some of the things we've been talking about this last month here in the blog.  

First, I spent some time with one of my highest priorities as my husband and I took a couple of days to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary early.  

Second, because of those days off I got some peace, rest and margins in my life!  It was good to take time to "be still".

  I hope you'll pardon the lack of posts and now enjoy this new one as we continue to dwell on 1 Peter 5:7. Casting all your anxiety on Him; because he cares for you. (KJ2000)

One of the places I mentioned in my Top 10 ways to Cast your Cares on Him VLOG was to use nature as a reminder.  In talking to a friend the other night she labeled it as my "coping" mechanism.  Hmm...
my coping mechanism

Interesting word choice!  So, of course I had to look up what people think a "coping mechanism" means.  According to the medical free dictionary it's, "...the factors that enable an individual to regain emotional equilibrium after a stressful experience." And "...any conscious or unconscious mechanism of adjusting to environmental stress without altering personal goals or purposes."

Two things stood out to me, "enable to regain emotional equilibrium after a stressful experience." and "unconscious" adjustment to stress "without altering goals or purpose."   

Let's deal first with the gaining control after a stressful experience.  We pretty much all know what stress does to you.  It may be a bit different for each of us.  We could be short with people, agitated, unable to sleep or rest, lack focus, anxious, and even exhibit physical symptoms like headaches or depression.  Regaining control involves getting back to a stable (or lack of excess of all those things) position.  But how....

Take a look at your "symptom" and analyze what makes you feel the opposite.  For me the beach is a calming, relaxing, carefree experience (the opposite of the stressful situation.)  It reminds me of God's control, power and peace.  The huge sand dune (I live by Lake Michigan people!), the never ceasing sound of the waves rolling in and the quiet.  

Just today I heard on the radio that the beach can actually be healing, so I looked it up.  Turns out there is a book titled, Blue Mind, which explores just that.  The author claims, "We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken,"  Please understand, I haven't read the book, so I'm not necessarily recommending it, just pointing out that "science" is recognizing the "coping" power of God's creation.

I think actually God already told us this.  In Psalms19:1 it says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." ESV and in Romans 1:20 "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." ESV

Did you catch that, "his eternal power".  That's what we want and need when we are trying to make sense of our "little" world.  We need the Big picture and the Big power.  Namely, God's power.  In our own power, we are stressed and rendered ineffective.  But, in God's power, we can be powerful conquerors!  

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Be sure to check out the next study guide, as we'll explore this concept further. 

The second thing that stood out to me in the definition of "coping mechanism" was the "unconscious part."  How do we make something unconscious?  I'm going to suggest the word "habit".  

How do we unconsciously drive home?  Habit, routine and familiarity.  We've all done it.  It's almost like the car knows where to turn without us "thinking" about it.  Why?  We've done it 1,000 times.  We show up in our own driveway, and we don't even remembering all the little details of driving home, but we did it.

 We should find and practice our mechanisms BEFORE we need them so they do become unconscious.  My friend pointed out to me what was my "coping mechanism", as I was relaying to her a story from my past about a time when "my world" was crumbling before me and my eyes were quite literally growing dim.  My life looked dim, with no answers to pressing problems.  I "choose" to go to the beach!  For a week, I went to the beach everyday.  

How did I know to do this?  Well, I didn't specifically KNOW I needed to do this to cope, but I knew it was a place I could find peace.  It was a place went to with my kids at least once a week.  Every time we got there in the early morning to a deserted, or almost deserted parking lot and beach my soul breathed.  It refreshed me on a weekly basis without a pressing "need", it just did. God's creation can do that.  I had practiced so this became "unconscious" without my knowing it.  

Do you have a place?  Where is it?  Where does God's creation speak to you, calm you, remind you of your place in HIS world?  Maybe we should make time to cultivate those places, and practice our "coping" so that when the stresses of this world hit they do become "unconscious" responses?

Stay tuned, and be sure to sign up for the study guide as we'll be exploring more one "casting your cares"....

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

10 ways to "Cast your Cares Upon HIM!"

 As we've been going through our series on "Be Still", we've noticed one of the road blocks to the process.  That is, the inability to give our concerns, worries and stresses to God.  We know that we should, yet it's hard to give them and even harder to leave them.  

Tune in today as I give my top 10 ways you can train yourself to "Cast your Cares Upon HIM"!  Enjoy!  And don't forget to sign up for our study guides so you'll get yours on "Casting Cares" in a few days!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Finding Inner Peace

Sometimes we just can’t control what goes on around us, we just can’t!  We can however control what goes on inside us, we can control how we act and react.  We can train ourselves to have inner peace.  Really, can we?

When I was growing up one of the things my Dad did was drive the church bus to camp.  Back in those days all the families would bring their campers to church and would load into the big yellow bus to all get dropped off at camp.  We’d ride for close to 2 hours, thrilled to be going.  

This was not your half-asleep band of children.  Oh, no, WE were going to camp, sitting with friends, talking, yelling, throwing pillows, stuffed animals and who knows what else. This was not a calm peaceful ride to camp.  It was chaos!  I’d like to say controlled chaos, but I’m not even sure it was.
With all of this going on behind him, my Dad was not phased.  He tuned it all out and I think actually enjoyed the drive!  My mom sitting in the front seat did not enjoy the chaos as much I’m afraid.  I remember even as a kid being amazed that my Dad could remain unfazed by all the commotion.  

How can we remain unfazed by all the commotion round us and find that inner peace?  We can’t always control our environment.  You know, the screaming baby with colic, the car trip with several cranky family members, the deadlines and stress and work, the literal storm that has the power out and food spoiling in the fridge, the broken cars/washing machines/leaky roofs etc.  With all the “storms” in our life how DO we find peace inside?

The Bible tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  John 14:27 ESV.  Jesus as he’s preparing the disciples for his departure gives this assurance.  Jesus is the giver of peace.  

If we back up to 26 I think we find another clue in how to find this peace. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  I don’t think it’s an accident the verse telling us we have a helper who will teach us comes right before the verse granting us peace.

If we are believers we have the Holy Spirit.  He can remind us, teach us to let this peace from God reign in our lives no matter the circumstance.  We just have to ask!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Finding quiet study guide

The Hiding Place     -     By: Corrie ten Boom

Are you finding peace and quiet this week? Why not explore this a little deeper with our new study guide!  Knowing more about where our peace comes from and the nature of the giver can really help us maintain it when times get tough.

If you've ever read the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom you'll remember the contrast we discuss in our study guide this week.  Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to a concentration camp during WWII and lived in some horrible conditions.  Corrie struggled to deal with really everything about the experience.  Her sister Betsie on the other hand, though sick and no better off, found ways to be joyful and content.  She was able to even thank God for the fleas that covered their beds!

A read I highly recommend.  It is faith building for sure!

Check out the new study guide as you follow the blog this week exploring how to "Be still".  Our guide is titled "Finding Quiet."  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Need for Peace

What do we mean by peace?  We could be talking about world peace?  Peace and quiet?  A Peaceful spirit?  A calming environment?  Well, we’re not exploring world peace. I’ll leave that for Miss America, but all of the others could have a place in our discussion.

Why is having an inner peace important?  Sometimes I find it useful to think about the alternative.  What would it look like if we “don’t” have inner peace?  That is maybe something we can relate to all too well.

I tend to equate a lack of peace with stress and chaos: An out of control feeling.  What do you equate with a lack of peace?  It often happens to me when I’m in a hurry, over scheduled and don’t have, or haven’t put in the necessary prep time.  It’s easy to tell from my reactions that I’m not at peace.  I can be short with people, hurriedly running around, sometimes blaming others, frustrated and just not really enjoying life.  Can you relate?

But how do we get this peace?

Philippians 4:7 tells us “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  So, the peace we need comes from God.  We can’t understand it.  But the real key is verse 6.

If we back up to verse 6 it reads, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”ESV

What is a lack of peace?  Stress, frustration, and over commitment.  At the heart of it, could it be we are anxious, we are worried, we are stressing over “how” will I get it done, “where” is the thing I need to find, “why” is everything not going the way I need it to.  We are anxious.  

And the answer-give your requests to God.

Most of us already know stress can cause us many problems, including some serious health problems.  It’s not good for us!  According to Mayo Clinic, “Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.’ Common effects of stress on your body are , headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive , stomach upset , sleep problems .  Common effects on our mood can include anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, sadness and depression. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987)

Besides all the health issues, we are more productive when we are not stressed.  My kids and I studied this principle with some of our debate cases.  In history when a society flourishes it was called a golden age.  When did these societies flourish? When there was plenty of resources, money, safety and stability.  They were not at war, struggling just to eat or wrapped up in political turmoil.  It was during these times the members of the societies were able to be creative, productive and produce.
It's the same with us on a personal level.  When we worried about how, where, why, and when we will do things we are not as effective.  We don’t think as clearly, make more mistakes and just don’t function as well.

We know we need to turn it all over to God.  You knew this, and yet you hold on.  What is it that you need to release to God today?

Casting all your anxiety on him, because HE cares or you!”  1 Peter 3:7

Easier said than don’t, right?!?!  

Stay tuned for my top 10 ways to keep casting those cares on HIM….

Remembering our responsibilities....

There is a made-up word that has become really popular: “ adulting ”.   You’ve probably heard of it?     It’s mostly used by teens and y...