Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stressed Less

It is so difficult for me to believe that this is the final week of the Stressed-Less Living Online Bible study. For me, it has been transformational.  I wish that there was a "stress gauge" that I could use to scientifically document the difference between my stress level at the beginning of this study and my stress level now, but I don't think I can purchase one at the local department store or pharmacy, so I suppose that anecdotal references will have to do.

I came into the study thinking that it would show me how to eliminate some of the stress in my life. After all, that was the title of the book, right?...... WRONG! Right off the bat, in Chapter One I learned that what had to change was not my life, but ME! Once I accepted my responsibility, I began to realize that the old saying was true, "An ATTITUDE is a little thing that can make a BIG difference." I needed to stop being so negative all of the time and focus on the brighter side of things.

Chapter Six of the book brought another huge slap that woke me up to a new reality---- I was taking too much into my own control. Those people who know me might say, "Hey, wait a minute... we always knew that!" Looking back, I can see that I always tried to jump in and fix things. I am one of those who thinks it is all one big logical sequence: see a problem, determine the specific needs, work to fill the need. Now I realize that there are are some things that I had been leaving out of the sequence. It should read: see a problem, TAKE THE PROBLEM TO GOD, ALLOW HIM to determine the specific needs, work to help GOD fill the need. Because of what I have learned in this study, I find myself praying more, asking God to help me see what needs to be done and then to provide me with guidance to help meet the needs. Sometimes I find myself praying about things for quite a while before God speaks back, but that is ok. I am developing a real patience.

Chapter Eight found me saying, "Hello, My name is Stella and I am an Accomplisher." Yes, I like to make lists- even if they are sometimes mental lists- of things that I need to do each day. It gives me great pride to cross each item off the list and move on to the next. Before I started this study my daily list might be VERY LONG and I would find my heart pounding, pushing me to get started. As I completed each task that adrenaline did not slow down. Instead, it was almost as though the list was growing.... imagine that! I would think of all the things that I had LEFT to do rather than those things that I had accomplished. What happened if I reached the end of the day and there where still things on the list? Can you say the word, "Breakdown"---- No longer! My daily list is shorter and if things are still left at the end of the day? In the tone of Scarlett..... "Tomorrow is another day!"

My last bit of evidence is to relay some personal examples from this week. In order to discuss the change that has occurred in me, I need to tell you about the stresses in my life, what might have been, and what my new reality is.

This week I had two major stresses: Two final days of teacher training and temporarily losing my daughter to a summer program.

First the training: As school went out early in May I received an email about a possible summer literacy training. After some investigation, I decided that I would LOVE to attend. It would give me some great strategies for my classroom and besides.... I would get paid a nice stipend for attending. Early in June I received a follow up email asking if I wanted a hotel room or did I just want to drive back and forth? To fully explain the situation, I suppose I should tell you that getting to the training involves a 73 mile commute (one way). I decided to drive. Normally, the stresses of traffic, weather delays, getting up extra early during the summer, returning home late, gas prices..... you name it..... all of these things would have combined to create a frazzled me. But this time.... they didn't. I used the commute as a time to listen to KLove on the radio, sing along with some of the songs, utter a few prayers for people in need, and just spend quiet time with the Lord and my thoughts.  I even squeezed in a shopping visit one morning when I arrived at my training TOO EARLY! Imagine that!

The second real stress came on Sunday when I dropped my daughter off for a 5 week Governor's Scholars Program. Here in Kentucky, students who are juniors in high school can apply for the program. A little over 1000 are chosen from across the state. They spend 5 weeks on a college campus developing leadership skills, learning about themselves, learning how to make decisions, and basically getting a new mind-set and attitude that is supposed to better prepare them for the real world that lies ahead of them in the coming year. During the five weeks, families can only visit 1 day- Family Day- which is about 2 weeks into the program.

I had been through the whole thing two years ago when my son was in the program. I was a blubbering idiot on drop-off day, Family Day, and even on pick-up day I think. I will be honest and tell you that I still shed a few tears when I left her, but I knew that she was safe in God's hands. Last night she called to tell us that a storm was moving through the area. She and several other girls were kind of temporarily "trapped" in the dorm and might miss supper. "I will eat some of my snacks and maybe call out for a delivery from somewhere a little later." Boy, did she really grow up THAT much in 4 days? To further heighten my stress level, her birthday is coming up this week. She will celebrate her Sweet Sixteen over three hours away from me. The old me might have approached this with more tears and a second box of Kleenex, but the new me did a Pinterest search for creative CARE package ideas, did a shopping trip, and came home to get a box ready for mailing. (Hopefully, it will arrive at the dorm before the big day.)

Yes, this study has been a life-changer! I can't wait for school to start back. (Did I REALLY just say that?) I am hoping that my students will see a quieter, less-pressured, more attentive ME..... one that thinks more before she speaks, smiles more, and can let her hair down from time to time. Thank you God for sending this Bible study just when I needed it!


  1. I love all the things you've learned from this study!! I'm also a controlling person and it's been quite an eye-opener to realize I need to change me, not necessarily my circumstances. It sounds like you've got a great handle on things. Thanks for sharing!!

    Kris (OBS Small Group Leader)

  2. Stella, thank you so much for sharing, not only you take aways from this study, but also how it has affected your life directly. This study has been a life-changer for me as well. I just love to see how God works in and through these Online Bible Studies. Praying for your daughter as she is away and for you as you prepare for another school year.

  3. Stella, you are an amazing lady! Thank you for sharing your journey during this study! Isn't it wonderful to sometimes have quiet time and worship time alone in your car? I love when I get to drive somewhere because I know I will be able to listen to HisRadio and/or KLove depending on where I am traveling. I have been truly blessed by many songs that have played on the radio! Tell your daughter congratulations on Governor's School and Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful remainder of your summer! God Bless!