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Stress: There is a Positive Pathway

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For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14

Hey friends! Happy Friday to you. I am glad you stopped by today. Like many of you, I have returned to working from home. While doing an online trauma course, the Holy Spirit prompted me to reflect on how to positively respond to stress.

Our world has been crazy, unfamiliar, irritating, heartbreaking, and downright frustrating on so many levels. 2020 has presented challenges far from our imagination. So, let’s talk about it.

There is no doubt about the anxiety produced by the pandemic and worldly behaviors throughout this unforgettable year. However, our response generates a pathway to either a healthy or unhealthy recovery. It is important for us to analyze how to overcome everything we have experienced, are experiencing, and will continue to experience in the next few months.

First, I care about you. You are important and highly valued. So, just stop and take a deep breath. Go grab yourself some water and find a quiet spot to soak in what I have to share with you today. Get comfortable. If need be, come back and read this once you can mentally focus. Oh yeah, by the way exhale!

How to have a positive response to stress

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

We all know pain, distress, disturbances, upsets, suffering, and strain in life can cause major alterations to the body. Remember the physical ordeal you encountered the last time you received shocking news? The outside pressure and tension often affect how the body functions. But what about the brain?

Let me share one point made in the training I attended today. It is a scientific research fact that the brain renovates itself throughout a lifespan based on what we encounter and how we respond. The associated term for the brain’s ability to transform and adapt is known as neuroplasticity. Upon hearing this, I immediately reflected upon my life and thought about the effects toxic stress had on my own brain.

I must say it has been my experience that trauma and stress can have a long-term impact on the body as well as the brain. However, I feel we have some control over its effect to damage or to build resilience. It is all in how we choose to heal.

Regardless, we are ALL going to encounter stress, disappointments, and shock during our lifetime. These incidents and responses are what shapes our lives. Over a lifespan it can give us an appearance of wisdom (and maybe a few gray hairs!). Later in life, we become wise to what worked and what failed when we dealt with bumps in the road of life.

It all comes down to this. How do you want your brain to change? Our brain is going to rewire itself whether we want it to or not just like our body is going to transform as we grow older. The circumstances in our lives impact our thinking. We have a choice to embrace our mental maturity under the influence of God or apart from Him.

Where do you run when all of your “normals” are stripped away and you feel powerless? How do you respond when anger, irritation, and/or anxiety visit your mind? What steps do you have in place to have a healthy positive response to stress?    

The key to having a constructive response to trauma and stress was shared in the online training-having one healthy & protective relationship in your life. Yes, I know they were speaking more in terms of an earthly human who is a dynamic encourager, but I am going to take it to the HNL (hole nother level).

GOD! Our healing begins with Him. He is the ultimate source to deliver true security, shelter, and value. If there is one protective relationship we can rely upon, it is God Himself. He is our comfort and helpmate. In His arms is where we can run and find the safety we desire. When we are facing distress, it is our relationship with Him that allows us to return to calmness more efficiently. His great love assists us in facing trauma and stress. As our bond grows, so does the confidence we have in God to be a barrier for future disappointments and encounters.

The quantity and quality of time spent with God is controlled by each individual. We have the power to allow God to make a huge, long term impact on our lives. It all comes back to the major decision of how we want our brains to change. Do we want a worldly mindset or a promising eternal mindset?

In a deep relationship with the Lord we are assured warmth, compassion, and love. These things have the power to miraculously change our thinking and how we respond to life. Through Him and in Him we can find our need for acceptance and belonging regardless of what we face in our daily lives.

So, my friend, how can you better handle stress? Embrace sanctification. By definition this means “the state of proper functioning”. God tells us that He wants us set apart in order to be used as He envisioned. We must realize God planned for us to be on earth during this particular time (Yes, even during 2020). The Father wants to work in us and through us for the purpose He intended.

It is our choice is to live according to God’s plans and purpose. We must decide if submitting to His authority and building a relationship with Him daily is going to be our pathway to resilience. The brain and body will change and adapt, but what influences and changes our trajectory of life is up to us.

Living out life requires intentionality. Who do you want to walk alongside during your lifetime? What will you allow to change your thinking and alter your mind? Is it the way of the world or God?

Sweet friend, let Him transform your thinking. Change your response to stress by seeing your circumstances through God’s eyes. Come adopt the support of the One and Only Protective Relationship you need. God will ensure you a positive pathway and healing. I am praying for you and your daily encounters in 2020.  

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

How to Handle Delays

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Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 1 Peter 5:6 NIV

Hi friends! I am delighted you have stopped by today. Refining has been an amazing journey over the past sixteen months. It went from simple reflection on paper to small groups, retreats, online classes, Zoom meetings, one-on-one mentoring, Facebook, Instagram, and a blog. WOW! I am still in awe from God’s amazing work without delay.

As I reflect upon the journey, I can’t help but think about God’s timing. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven”. The Lord’s timetable is perfect yet I often find myself existing elsewhere. I frequently have to remind myself of Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

Timing is a tricky issue. There are times we need to speed it up, slow it down, or even just wait. WAIT? Yes, that is a word I don’t like to hear either, especially in regards to my personal agenda. How often do you like to hear the words, “Sorry friend, there has been a delay in your plans” or “You will have to exhibit patience because this is impossible currently”? Urgh! My initial response-Are you serious?

What about you? How do you respond to delays? Is patience your strong suit? Are you the poster child for waiting? Most people try to avoid delays. They take a different pathway to work to avoid a school zone or travel outside of peak hours to avoid traffic. I am guilty of taking matters into my own hands when I believe my time waiting is deemed as wasteful.

2 Ways to Respond to Delays

  • Remain faithful and rely on God’s timing: What would you say if I told you our delays could be part of God’s plans? The Bible is filled with examples. Remember when David was anointed as a king? He had to wait 13 years before he was truly anointed. How did he respond? David remained faithful and loyal to the Lord. He trusted God’s timing.  

The Lord has great plans. In our journey, He will expect us to exercise endurance and perseverance when our agenda is delayed. We can allow waiting to build our character. God has devised a reason for the postponement. Although the time lag may seem a waste, the Father will continue to stand beside us. It is up to us to permit God to continue in the driver seat and direct our pathway. Delays are a test of faith. They quickly reveal the ruling authority over our lives.

  • Take matters into your own hands: Although God doesn’t expect us to sit back and do nothing, He does want us to remain committed to His ways. For generations, we seem to struggle to be compliant. Think about Abraham. He decided he should get ahead of God to have a child.  

We live in an instantaneous world where things come quickly-fast food, 2-day shipping, messaging, texting, quick pay, and the list continues. Why would we tolerate delays? They are a nuisance and we have been conditioned to believe we are better off taking matters into our own hands than waiting. So, jump on a solution and avoid waiting. Life is too short.

But God quickly reminds us of the test-the delay exam-Who do you truly honor? Are you more loyal to man’s ways or God’s direction? Do you fear being seen as a failure in the world’s eyes or do you really rely on God and His timing? Can you find joy in waiting? Do you have what it takes to be dedicated and constant in your faith when God seems to be dragging His feet? Are you devoted to fighting back those selfish agendas and committed to resist the enemy’s schemes?

Just food for thought…How do you handle delays? Better yet, how will you handle it the next time it rears its ugly head?

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. Psalm 130:5

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