Stress? 9 Simple Ways To Reduce It

How Do You Handle Stress?

Stress had grabbed my entire body.

Stress

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Recently I realized I had been making my days to be full with no time to just sit and breathe. I would either be on the computer, painting, doing woodworking, making meals, seeing shows, dancing, going for walks or at the gym. S

I read the newspaper during breakfast.

I checked my phone at lunch.

It was only at dinner that hubby and I turned off our devices and concentrated on talking. That usually led to fact-checking on the computer. lol 🙂

My husband and I seldom get mad at each other — certainly not yelling. But this week it happened. I lost my temper — big time.

I felt tired, anxious, upset and mad.

This had happened before!

I wrote about how I felt and how not to get into that situation again. I was stressed.

I’ve written before about that lesson. I have to keep reviewing the lessons myself.

Why Do Fights Start and How to Stop Them?

But I realized seeing the stress is not enough.

I needed to look at this deeper. To look at days gone by and learn again so I don’t go down into this mire again. God teaches us to remember in His Word.

Remember your history,
    your long and rich history. (Isaiah 46:9, MSG)

Former memories

This past week reminded me of years ago.

As soon as we started our business, I went back to work as a part-time teacher because there had to be some income and extra health benefits and life insurance. In our second year of business, I went back to full-time teaching while still helping with the business. I also took courses for credit in my teaching profession. And I signed up to be the one in charge of all the athletics in our school.

Family Life

We had three kids ages 14, 12 and 8. They were in three different schools at one time; high school, junior high and public school. Juggling all those balls took a toll on me, and wrecked my body because I didn’t know how to stop taking on too many things.

I didn’t know I needed to stop.

I didn’t know how to stop.

Over the next five years, my health took a slide downwards.

I couldn’t walk upstairs (knee problems). Lifting my hand above my shoulder (writing on the blackboard became increasingly difficult). I developed TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction) so my jaw was very sore. Because I clenched my teeth at night,  my whole body ached.

I got angry easily. I yelled. I complained. I ranted.

I was fearful, and not healthy.

I felt stressed every minute of the day.

I was a mess.

Stress

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

I decided to take a half-time position in teaching to see if that helped. I visited a physiotherapist and massage therapist.

But I still kept doing things.

I didn’t stop.

I decided to take a leave of absence from teaching for 2 years. But I went back to our business and upgraded our technology, expanded our office space, and hired two employees. I didn’t stop.

It took some time but finally, I understood.

Two things happened

  1. I saw the problem.
  2. I worked at the problem.

A decorative plate reminded me to “stop and smell the roses”. This is what finally helped me — to slow down, take breaks, be still.

We still have this plate in our collection.

stress

From my personal collection.

In this world that seems to be running faster and faster, we need to STOP.

The quality of time you have for downtime is important to your mental and physical health. It helps deal with stress.

Here are 9 ways to reclaim your peace and health and reduce stress

  • Take breaks during the day. Even 10 minutes can refresh your spirit, mind and soul. Take a stroll (notice I didn’t say walk) through somewhere green — with life surrounding you. Dance around for a few minutes to release tension.
  • Take deep breaths once an hour to bring in the needed oxygen to your brain.
  • Plan vacations. Even small times away can refresh our bodies and spirits.
  • Date nights. If you are married, plan date nights with your spouse. Honestly, we forget to do that in our hurried lifestyles. Soon we drift apart. Be there to just be there, to enjoy each others’ company.
  • Turn off social media. This has been something that takes away from life — it doesn’t give life. We crave the dopamine that it elicits and we want more. We check our phones way too often. [I am guilty of this.]
  • Make a list. Sit down and look at all that you do. List everything out. Then circle the things that give you pleasure. Put a line under the things that have to be done anyway. See what remains. See if you can drop those things.
  • My Quiet spot. Whatever you want to call this — find time to be in a quiet spot. If you are a Believer, then sit with Jesus. Discuss things. If you are not, then sit with yourself and talk to yourself. And in both cases LISTEN to what you hear.
  • Read. Get a good book and plan time to sit and read. Not scan like we tend to do on computers. But read the book for enjoyment — not for what you can write about it later. lol 🙂 [I am at fault for this.]
  • Listen or play music. That has a very calming effect on our souls. Classical music is wonderful to enjoy.

I am not there yet. As I read over my thoughts I need to do at least 4 things. Hopefully, as I do these my mind, body and spirit will recover. I especially need to focus on number 6.

 

To keep stress at bay I need to stop and smell the roses.

How about you?

My favourite verse from the Bible:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

May I pray for you and me?

Lord, there are so many opportunities to “do” things. All may be good but all might not be in Your will or purpose for us. Help us to focus on Your voice so we can choose only those things that will do Your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Watch for Sunday’s post – it has a linky for sharing your Christian poetry.

Blessings,

Janis

 

Can You Look at the Right Place to Live your Life?

The Right Place

Proverbs 3

From Bible Art – Janis Cox

A poem of reflection, “Look at the Right Place”, after these morning’s scriptures – Psalm 121; Exodus 12:29-42; Romans 13:1-7

Look at the Right Place

Should it be
“To thine own self be true”
Or
“Let him deny himself”?

As we look to God
And His Word
We see how we need to act.

Seek justice
Love mercy
Walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)

Obey authorities when
They work for the benefit of society.

Look to God for answers.
Obey Him. (Acts 5:29)

Would the Kingdom of God
Allow inequality?

Would the Kingdom of God
Tolerate hatred and violence?

Seek the truth.

To God be true.

Lean not on your own understanding.

Acknowledge God. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Pray for your enemies. (Matthew 5:44)

God spoke to Saul,
Why do you persecute Me? (Acts 9:4)

Lord, speak into hearts
And minds of those in authority.

Reveal Yourself
Now. Amen.

God speaks:

“Fight injustice
Fight inequality.”

To Thine be the glory
Should be our cry.

Act on earth as it
Shall be in Heaven.

Bring a stampede of
holy thoughts and actions.

We are Christians first.
Keep that in proper perspective.

Our home is with God.
Our allegiance is to God.

All else falls under that.

Look at the right place.

©Janis Cox 2020

Are you looking at the right place? How straight is your path?

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To learn more about Bible art please take her free Bible art course.

Janis recently published two new books, Growing through God’s Word and Bible Study/Colouring Book Psalm 119:1–8. Visit her on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com 

 

 

Change

Change Is Coming

 

Change

Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

A new poem about change.

The Winds of Change

Already to change
because God has
chosen this as the time to
do radical revision to 
everything I do

Find my true purpose
God will show me
how to go forth

I will keep close – not
jumping ahead of Him

Continue reading

How Can an Abecedarian Poem Free Us?

An Abecedarian poem

Abecedarian Poetry Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I didn’t feel free to write poetry. But God did. A new type of poetry, abecedarian, kickstarted my love of poetry.

These past months I have written many poems as I read and studied scripture.

I started a 3-year Bible plan in the spring. Each day I read 3 scriptures. I use the SIMPLE Method of Study. Find out how you can join a Facebook group studying God’s Word.

I thought I would start to share those abecedarian poems with you.

Today’s poem is called, “Today’s Thoughts”

An abecedarian poem is a type of acrostic poetry but runs through the entire alphabet. I endeavoured to do that with my thoughts for today. As I just let go and let God, these words are what happened.

Today’s Thoughts

Anxious thoughts roll through my mind
but I keep focused on Jesus

Creator God, I know You
desire that every creature on earth see
everything beautiful and peaceful — You will
fulfil Your purpose

God, You
have established Your rule and are
interested in each individual who seeks
justice for all and I know that the
knowledge of You
lives inside each of us

Many have been touched by Your mercy
None will be lost forever

Open hearts is Your desire
Peace is Your plan

Quietly sitting with You helps
restore my faith and my hope

Seeking You each morning
teaches me the power of Your Word
until I start to know it by myself

Variety in teaching helps me
with establishing Your Word and the
xyst that you have for my life

You have given me such
zeal for all that You are and all that I can be

© Janis Cox 2020

*xyst means a garden walk planted with trees or a portico used as a promenade. I considered it a path that God wants me to take.

May I pray for you and me?

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, on this Trinity Sunday, I ask that You seek our hearts and we seek Yours. Touch us and let us feel Your Presence. Reach us in our deep inner parts and teach us all that we need to know. In the powerful name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

 

 

Insider Radical Faith Secrets For Any Jesus Followers

What does “radical” mean and why as Christians are we called to be radical followers of Jesus?

This is how it feels to be radical. Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash

Radical: “very different from the usual or traditional”
“favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions” ~ Merriam Dictionary

Stepping out

You can read a little bit about this here:

Stepping back

Suffice to say that we decided on that sabbatical to look into selling.

Nine months later and many setbacks, we successfully sold the business.

Now what?

We decided to move away from our home town, up to the trees and the lakes. We decided to take on a project of building our own home. Hubby always loves building and plans so this kept him very occupied and happy. We even renovated a cottage at the same time.

However, when all was said and done and we moved in we said:

What now?

The next step

We ran our B & B for four years. We found it fascinating to meet new people, discussing various subjects at breakfast. Finding out about different lands, and different ideas enlightened our thinking.

Step back again

So we closed down that enterprise.

Those are just a few of our radical moves in this life. I didn’t even count the one about our early marriage.

You can read about that here:

Jesus calls us

That book started me thinking of what my life would be like if I completely listened to God. And not only listened but did what He said.

Yes, you can travel to Poland — God said

My heart started to pound. I really felt this might be something I should do.

BUT:

I had so many buts.

  • I had never travelled alone.
  • I had never eaten out alone.
  • I didn’t know any of these people and I am shy (was shy).
  • I had recently decided to follow Jesus (around the time of selling our company) and didn’t think I knew enough about Christ to help.
  • I had food allergies and environmental allergies.

I kept hearing — GO. Different times I would see the same post. I had to find out more. But that meant emailing someone. NO, I didn’t think I could do that. And it was someone I didn’t know.

The push

When God really wants you to do something, He makes it very clear.

This notion of going to Poland would not leave me.

I went to bed thinking about it. I woke up thinking about it.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I wrote the email.

After many back and forth conversations, talking with my hubby and lots of praying, I decided to take that step and go. I had to go on training as well. That’s another story.

Results

My first mission trip to Poland.

Living radically means listening to God.

Are you hesitant?
Is there something you feel called to do but are afraid?
Is God placing a call on your life — and you are holding back?

May I suggest you talk with your Pastor or a mentor?

Spend time in God’s Word and in prayer.

Remember to listen to His answer and how He speaks to you.

Disclaimer: There is an affiliate link in this post.

Why Is Asking Forgiveness So Important?

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Anger only makes us sick. Learn forgiveness. Pixabay photo

I think forgiveness is the hardest thing to do. I have been in that situation a few times. I found that when I didn’t forgive, my muscles were tight, sickness invaded my system easier and my bones ached. So much for hurting anyone but myself. When I forgave (this doesn’t mean you have to agree with the person or even like them) the person or situation, I became free.

I am reading the Bible in three years.

Today’s scriptures, to me, focused on forgiveness. Another day I may see something else.

Romans 1:1–7

We are told that we are set apart, called to be saints. To be a saint really means we are holy — because of Christ. Nothing we have done. Paul states this to all of Rome. Everyone can belong to God.

And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: (Romans 1:6–7, NIV)

Psalm 51

After we are restored to God, we are expected to tell others. But who are able to come to God? — those with broken spirits and contrite hearts. They have sought forgiveness either from others or from God.

I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. (Psalm 51:17, MSG)

“Heart-shattered lives ready for love” — open, and free.

Jonah 3:1–10

Jonah listened to God (finally) and proclaimed the truth to Nineveh, warning of their destruction.

What did the Ninevites do?

All the people and the king fasted. They wore sackcloth — a sign of repentance. They prayed to God to forgive them. And they gave up their evil way.

Result?

God had compassion and there was no destruction.

God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn’t do. (Jonah 3:10, MSG)

After I had read the passages, I wrote my thoughts.

  1. Obedience to God is important and can change lives.
  2. God is compassionate.
  3. God hears people cry out to Him.
  4. God listens to our hearts.
  5. True repentance can bring reconciliation with God.

Who are you angry at?
What is there in your heart that might not be pleasing to God?
Search yourselves.

Ask forgiveness.

Kimberly Payne writes about forgiveness.

How many times a day do we need to ask forgiveness?

Once per transaction. Then Jesus covers you.

Thank You Jesus, that You are right here. I don’t need my transgressions to build until I can tell a priest. You are the High Priest that will hear and answer immediately.

I love the verse from Micah. In Micah 6:8

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously. (MSG)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)

I love The Message: “Take God seriously.”

When I went to God in prayer, this is the poem I heard.

Forgiveness

Anger eats away at our souls
Crusty, hard, judgmental

Warm your hearts
Embrace the compassion of God.

Anger builds walls
Love embraces

Confession breaks down walls
God forgives

Hearts are restored
Healing happens
Life returns
God is connected

©Janis Cox 2020

May I pray for you and me?

Lord, You see inside us. Help us to see what You see so we can confess. Break open our hearts to the truth so we can be healed. We ask forgiveness for …. [fill it in]. Thank You that You hear us. Thanks for reconnecting with us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What Does God Desire of Me and You?

God sees all. God created us and knows us intimately

Psalm 15:10

From YouVersion – Psalm 51:10

Today as I read the three passages from the Bible, (I am reading through the Bible in three years) I saw this theme.

God knows us well.

Isaiah 58:1-12

What a powerfully packed lesson. I want to read it again and again.

Today, once again, I see pride as something that God detests. He mentions those who are upset with God when an answer doesn’t come to their liking. He doesn’t like them asking pridefully, “We fasted, and we humbled ourselves, and You didn’t listen or answer.”

But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’ “Well, here’s why: “The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. (Isaiah 58:3, MSG)

But God explains that their fasting was a show when in reality they were not acting in God’s way – they exploited others, they quarrelled.

Their fast was for “show”.

And when they humbled themselves they did that in a showy way by lying on sackcloth and ashes.

What does God suggest instead?

Once again it comes back to love God and love your neighbour.

so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ 31 And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:30-32, MSG)

God wants us to loose the chains of injustice, untie chords of yoke, and set oppressed free.

Break the chains of abuse

Isaiah 58:6 Loose the chains of injustice

How can we do this?

God gives us the means.

Share food.

Give shelter.

Give clothing.

Those are the basic needs of life. If people don’t have those we need to help.

In Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-21

We are told not to brag about doing things that we feel God wants us to do. For instance, giving is important. But not telling what we give. God knows it anyway. And we are to please Him and not try to be noticed.

The same can be said for fasting. If we fast, we do it in secret too. Secret to the world – but not to God.

And having things we don’t need – storing up stuff here on earth. Instead, we are to look for those things that please God and store up them.

I love the way the Message tells us how to do these things.

“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face.

God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.

A Life of God-Worship

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or – worse! – stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. (Matthew 6:16-21, MSG) Bolding mine.

Psalm 51:1-17

Confession. This is one spot we forget. I do too. I like the ACTS way of praying because it reminds me that confession is a part of prayer.

Adoration

Confession

Thanksgiving

Supplication (praying for ourselves and others)

This Psalm has the scripture that I memorized. Make a clean heart in me, O Lord.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10, ESV)

What does God desire of me?

A broken spirit (confession)

A broken and contrite heart – seeing what God wants and not what I want.

And it talks about God knowing us – our inner beings, our secrets. 

Because He made us, He knows us. Psalm 139:13-14

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13, NIV)

He wants a humble people. Not a proud people.

What did I learn?

We must see ourselves as God sees us. That means I need to remember to confess, because what I see God sees and what I do, God sees. And I know some of the things He sees in me is not to His liking.

Our hearts have to be softened. I need to think more about others.

Humility is important. So, don’t brag about anything.

And lastly, I want to help others with the basic needs of life.

What can I do?

A few practical things to start.

Go through my closet again and getting rid of clothes I do not wear.

Pray for inspiration of how to help people get their basic needs.

Confess daily those little things that God sees and I ignore.

What will you do?

I would love to hear your decisions. If we work on this together and encourage each other, without bragging, God will see us and be pleased.

May I pray for you and me?

Lord Jesus, thank You for showing us today the way we are to live. Thank You that You see and listen to us. Help us to be humbler and in tune with Your ways. Help us love our neighbours. Help us be aware of opportunities to serve others. In Your name. Amen.

Finding Fun in Painting and Haiku

Photo from Unsplash by Tim Artebury

This photo is exactly how I see myself — Maybe with a notebook on the side too. Photo by Tim Arterbury  on Unsplash

I am finding it encouraging to paint pictures and write Haiku

I love writing Haiku because my thoughts are short but go right to the heart of the matter.

My paintings are becoming looser as I let God help me relax and let the paint flow.

I have heard many people say they can’t paint but I love this quote:

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent Willem van Gogh

Thrive

To write and to paint
Both help my life to flourish
No striving — living

Here are 5 paintings with Haiku

Hunger

Its flight path straight
The hummingbird heads with speed
Sweet nectar awaits

Hummingbird

Hummingbird Watercolour by Janis Cox

Freedom

Light and fanciful
Bobbing along and carefree
Delightful seahorse

Seahorse

Seahorse Watercolour by Janis Cox

Alone

Orchid, strong perfect
Simplicity of design
Noble creation

Orchid

Orchid Watercolour by Janis Cox

Bloom

Arose from a hub
A cactus flower springs forth
Spring in the desert

Desert Cactus

Desert Cactus Watercolour by Janis Cox

Smile

Golden beauty glows
Nods its head to the daylight
A smiling sunflower

Sunflowers

Sunflowers Watercolour by Janis Cox

New devotional book coming soon.

Sign up for my Newsletter and receive a free PDF for an easy way to study the Bible called The SIMPLE Bible Study. Be sure to find out when it’s published. Growing Through God’s Word.

God, How Long Will You Let the Wicked Get Away With Murder?

Psalm 94:3

On studying Psalm 94:3 I wrote this poem.

Psalm 94:3

How long?
How long, Lord?

The plea of those without hope
I am sure they are crying out to You, Lord
I can hear their cries of anguish

Rescue them, Lord

Keep the police informed
Help the officials and those working to stop trafficking and slavery
Find and charge the perpetrators

Change the hearts of those who do this evil
Just like Paul was blinded by the light of Jesus.
Do the same to these men, women, whoever

Blind them and make them see the Light
Make them hear Your Words

Make them STOP

Open all eyes to know when something is not right
Help us to help stop this
Open hearts to give, every little bit helps
Open hearts to join all groups that work
To bring justice to the downtrodden

Free the captives
Open doors to new lives of freedom
Help restore lives

My anguish is real
My heart is sore
My head hurts

Why oh Lord?
How long must this go on?
Why do people hurt others?

Why must they have this power?

Help the officials find them
Help them rescue the abused
Use your Power oh Lord

Burst their balloons!
Make them deflate

Restore lives

©Janis Cox 2019

Join me in fighting against human trafficking.

Dressember

Dressember is one way to advocate against human trafficking. Your pennies can help. In the US donate here. In Canada donate here.

I am wearing a dress and a button every day in December to talk to people and raise funds for advocacy about human trafficking.

Here are a few pictures of my first few days.

I know – nothing matches.

But it sure causes conversation and that’s what I am trying to do. And it’s cool here.

Psalm 94

This was the wildest!!

Can you help?