Tuesday, April 30, 2013


It is week four of the Stressed-Less Living Bible study.....

and I have no doubt that God INTENDED for me to be here!

The last few months of my life have been filled with a great deal of turmoil and stress. This time last year I thought I was retiring and moving on to a new job- a leadership position that had been made possible by government grant money. The papers were filed, the party was held at school, the cake was cut, my retirement plaque was displayed on the mantel, and the "spoils" from 27 years of teaching had been distributed to my worthy colleagues.

Within weeks, everything would change: no retirement, my son was enrolled at an expensive university, and we were facing large amounts of college loans.

Since then, my husband, my son, and I have fretted and worried, pinched pennies, filed countless scholarship applications and taken on any extra position at school that might provide a few more dollars. The entire time, I allowed myself to stress over it, to cry over it, and occasionally (not faithfully, I am ashamed to say) prayed over it.

I discovered the link telling about this Bible study only days before it was set to begin. I actually went to a Bible bookstore and purchased my copy of the book only one day before the first web-post. I have no doubt that God guided me to that link. He knew that I needed help; he knew that I needed to stop fighting life and its stresses and allow HIM to get involved.

The first four weeks of this study have helped to transform me. I am stressing less and praying more. I am talking more to my friends about God and my beliefs. I am spending more time in quiet deliberation, thought, and conversation with God. I realize now that he has a plan- a plan for me to retire (some day), a plan for my son to finish college, and a plan for us to find the money necessary. He may also have other plans- plans that I am not aware of yet. Those plans will only be discovered if I continue to be transformed- becoming a person who is quiet.... calm.... listening for that still small voice, God's voice, as he makes those plans apparent to me.

Dear Lord,

I am ready......

Show me your good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Whoever first uttered the word stress was a very wise person. I don't think they truly understood the depth of meaning in those individual letters.

This week at school, during some unexpected down-time, I was thinking that the letters in the word STRESS could actually be an acronym for what is so often experienced during this time of the year.

S     State
T     Testing
R     Reason for
 E     Excessive
S     School
S     Stress

During my 20+ years as a teacher, I have always been part of this trend: grumbles, breaking up student fights, headaches over assignments that are given at the last minute trying to squeeze in one more last review or skill, all of these resulting in mental and physical exhaustion.

Well, next week is state testing for us and I am trying desperately to apply a new acronym to the word:

S     Some
T     Time
R     Resting in
E     Eternal
S     Solace and
S     Strength

As I read the materials for this week's Bible study and focused on the guiding verse, I decided to dig a little deeper into the meaning. 

According to the dictionary, the word repent means "to feel regret, remorse, to change one's mind regarding past conduct, to turn away from sin, to creep along the ground". That is ME! I need to turn away from the unnecessary pressure that I place on both myself and my students during this time of year. I need to realize that I have taught long and hard, all school year. THAT is what will bring results. 

The word rest made me think of calmness and peace. That is what I want for ME, my family, and for my classroom. I want to be a quiet, calm place where my children and my students can escape some of the end of the year madness and I want my soul to have a quietness and calmness away from the world's madness.  

The last phrase "in quietness and trust is your strength"...... That trust needs to be trust in the LORD and he will give me strength. In my mind I think of this as the ability to overcome.

Taken in totality, I see this verse telling me that I need to spend more time resting in God's strength, calling on him to help provide me strength, and giving him the chance to provide guidance to help me make wise choices. That can bring me the quietness and calmness that I so desire.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Calm Within the Storm

As I sit here writing this entry, there is a typical Kentucky spring storm brewing outside. Thunder is roaring, an occasional lightning bolt flashes through the darkness, and raindrops pound against the window. Despite this, I am calm......

This odd juxtaposition is all rather symbolic of the inner storm that has been brewing inside me.

The past 12 months of my life have brought many changes, many of which created more personal stress for me. My oldest child graduated from high school and began college. In helping him make his choice regarding where to attend, I tried hard not to focus on cost, but with each new college came a new tuition rundown, usually with bigger numbers. It didn't help that his top choice had probably the HIGHEST tuition in the state. Those who follow my blog know that I planned an early retirement in order to take another job. I kept thinking that my monthly retirement check plus the check from my "other" job would take care of things. At the last minute, the retirement system stepped in and threw a cog into the works, tearing apart my plans, and leaving me worrying about how to fund my son's tuition.  Though the college provided a great deal of assistance we could not escape the inevitable college loans, increasing the already large financial burden on my family.

Also within the past 12 months, my father-in-law and my husband's older brother both died. My own father experienced at least two months of health issues before finally going into the hospital for surgery. In addition, the implementation of new education reforms in Kentucky created an entirely new mountain of paperwork and duties for me, a teacher who already dedicated far too much personal time to her career.

All of these things combined to create that inner storm I mentioned at the beginning of this post- the one that created a stressed, worried, whiny, grumpy me. You see, as each stress was added to my life I allowed it to weigh me down even further. I worried about money and pinched pennies tighter and tighter. I fretted over every single bill that came in the mail and ever item that I bought. I spent my lunch hours listening to my peers complain about school, students, and whatever the latest work obligation might be. Not only did I listen; I added my own "belly-aching" to theirs. I am a stress eater and all of this stress caused me to eat more, and usually the wrong things. This caused me to gain back the 20 pounds that I had worked so hard to lose a couple of years ago.

At this point you are probably saying, "OK.... I understand the storm reference, but what about the calm? Where does that come in?" Well, that calm is a work in progress. As you know, I am participating in the Stressed-Less Living online Bible study. Here is this week's focus verse:

As I read this week's chapter and did the activities, I realized that I have been trying to take care of far too many things on my own. I have focused so much on the tuition cost of my son's education when what I really need to do is have faith that God will provide. There will always be another assignment that needs to be graded, another lesson plan that needs to be written, and some student that is just having "a bad day."I need to lean more on God to help me plan lessons that will meet the needs of my students, help me find time to get the paperwork done, and help me maintain an enthusiasm for my chosen career. In short, I need to do what the verse says, call on the Lord and allow him to help me with my distress.

Since I started this Bible study I have noticed an increased peace within me. I am not grumbling as much and my students have even noticed. This morning as I walked down the hallway before first bell, quietly singing a gospel song, one of my students said, "Mrs. Baker, why are you in such a good mood?" I just smiled and said, "It's a good day."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fear Not....

This week the Stressed-Less Living Bible study began. I can only say that this is going to be the most powerful 12 weeks of Bible study and personal growth that I have experienced in a very long time.

This is the focus verse for our first week.

As I read the words and the chapter I began to realize that much of my personal stress is self-inflicted. I need to learn to turn things over to God the things that are beyond my control and I need to learn to turn to God more frequently in order to discover those things that he REALLY DOES want me to do.

I have always been the kind of person who, when seeing something that needed doing, jumped in and tried to do it. I didn't stop to think about whether or not I was MEANT to do it. If there was a committee or an event at school that needed a lead person, I was there. If there was a club or organization that needed a sponsor, I was there. If there was a dance after school and they needed one more chaperone, students knew that they could come to me. Usually I would rework my schedule and take on whatever duties needed doing. Afterwards, of course, I would go home and sit and grade papers or worry because I didn't get everything done that I FELT I should.

I think that I now realize what I need to do is stop and ask God for guidance. OK... there is a committee that needs someone. Am I intended for it? What is God's will? If I do commit myself to the task at hand, I also can't beat myself up over the related duties. I need to realize that God is there and he will only give me what I can handle.

As I read the Bible verse and the chapter I kept seeing the reference to God being at my right-hand. I came to the realization that he truly is the BEST Right-Hand Man that I could have! He is always there; I just need to learn to lean on him a bit more for guidance and support.

I can't wait to see what the coming weeks of this Bible study hold for me! It isn't too late. Feel free to join in. You are sure to be blessed!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Energy Reboot

I have decided that it is time for me to get an energy boost. I have been devoting so much of my time and energy to school, work, and others. The stress has really worn me out. Yesterday, while I was reading my daily devotional online, I found the perfect opportunity for a re-focus.

While reading my morning devotional I came to a tiny little note at the bottom, leading me to this blog:


When I read about the online Bible study that is beginning April 7, I KNEW that this was meant for me! The Bible study will use the book Stressed-Less Living  by Tracie Miles as its foundation. The title alone makes me want to join in. I can definitely use LESS STRESS.

It isn't too late. I invite all of you to go to Melissa's link, sign up for the Bible study, purchase the book, and learn how to live with less stress. I am headed to the Bible bookstore on Saturday to pick up my copy, along with a journal to record my notes and reflections. I can't wait!